The Dodgers announced they’ve activated Clayton Kershaw from the 60-day injured list to start this evening’s game against the Diamondbacks. To open active and 40-man roster space, outfielder Steven Souza Jr. has been designated for assignment.
Kershaw has been on the IL since July 7 due to inflammation in his throwing elbow. The three-time Cy Young award winner now returns after a couple months away in hopes of helping the team erase a two and a half game deficit in the NL West. With eighteen games remaining on the schedule, Los Angeles can probably expect three or four starts from Kershaw down the stretch.
The 33-year-old only made one minor league rehab appearance, tossing 49 pitches over three innings with Triple-A Oklahoma City last Tuesday. He’s probably not quite ready to work a traditional starter’s workload, although it wouldn’t be a surprise if manager Dave Roberts lets Kershaw get into the middle innings tonight against Arizona.
Kershaw’s no longer the undisputed best pitcher in baseball, as he was at his peak, but he’s still among the game’s most effective hurlers. Over 106 1/3 innings, the veteran southpaw has a 3.39 ERA with continued elite strikeout and walk rates (30.1% and 4.5%, respectively). Incredibly, that 3.39 mark is Kershaw’s highest single-season ERA since his 4.26 figure as a rookie way back in 2008.
Trade deadline acquisition Max Scherzer has been even more spectacular than usual since joining L.A. He’d pair with Cy Young candidate Walker Buehler, Kershaw and Julio Urías in what would be an extremely daunting postseason rotation. Of course, that firepower is only relevant if the Dodgers make it to an NL Division Series — either by catching the Giants for the division crown or winning a Wild Card game.
Souza is bumped from the roster just six days after being called up. It was the second promotion of the season for Souza, whose previous stay was also brief. Altogether, the veteran outfielder has tallied just 36 plate appearances at the big league level this season. He’s performed well with Oklahoma City, hitting .247/.387/.507 with nine homers in 186 trips to the plate.
It has been a tumultuous few seasons for Souza, who hasn’t been able to recapture the peak form he showed with the 2017 Rays. He scuffled in 2018 upon being traded to the Diamondbacks, then missed all of 2019 after suffering a severe knee injury in Spring Training. The 32-year-old has made it back to the bigs in each of the last two seasons but hasn’t gotten much playing time.
The Dodgers will place Souza on outright or release waivers in the coming days. If he passes through unclaimed, he’d have the right to elect free agency. Souza cleared waivers in July and decided to test the open market, although he rejoined the Dodgers on a minor league deal relatively shortly thereafter.