Clayton Kershaw will begin a rehab assignment on Tuesday, per Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts says the plan is for Kershaw to throw three innings for their Triple-A affiliate in Oklahoma City. The star lefty has been out for more than 60 days, meaning he’s eligible to come off the 60-day IL at any time. Castillo also relays that another Dodgers starter, Tony Gonsolin, began a rehab assignment of his own yesterday. Both pitchers could potentially be activated soon if they don’t experience any setbacks.
If this all goes according to plan, it would be great news for the Dodgers and a rotation that has had to improvise for a lot of the season because of injuries. In addition to Kershaw and Gonsolin missing significant time, they lost Dustin May to Tommy John surgery. To cover for these losses, the club made the deadline additions of Max Scherzer and Danny Duffy, the latter of whom was also injured at the time and has yet to throw for his new team. They also signed Cole Hamels, only for him to suffer a season-ending injury before getting into a game.
Before going on the injured list, Kershaw was having another excellent season, throwing 106 1/3 innings with an ERA of 3.39 and excellent strikeout and walk rates of 30.1% and 4.5%, respectively. Gonsolin has also been effective when healthy this year, throwing 35 2/3 innings with a 2.78 ERA and solid 26.6% strikeout rate, although his walk rate of 16.5% is well above the 8.7% league average. Getting one or both of those hurlers back would be a tremendous help for a team that, despite the injuries, is locked into baseball’s tightest and most exciting pennant race, with the Dodgers and Giants sharing both the top spot in the NL West and the best record in baseball. (The Rays are also tied for the latter distinction.)
Kershaw’s return is also important for him personally as the 33-year-old is a few months away from reaching free agency for the first time in his career. Assuming he can stay healthy and pitch up to his usual standard, he’d be sure to receive and reject a qualifying offer at season’s end, before hitting the open market.