And then, 45 days later, Clayton Kershaw is scheduled to make his second start. The Dodgers activated him from the disabled list on Tuesday, sent down Pedro Baez, and announced Kershaw would start Tuesday night in Washington.
Please excuse the Dodgers if they welcome their teammate back with unmanly hugs and kisses and throw rose petals from the dugout. It has been a challenging six weeks since Kershaw last took the mound, never more so than this past week.
That included placing Hyun-Jin Ryu on the disabled list, playing two extra-inning games, a doubleheader that gobbled up over eight hours, and having to call up a pair of minor leagues as emergency rotation starters.
The Dodgers haven’t been baseball’s most impressive team since they lost Kershaw to a strained shoulder following the season-opener in Australia, but neither have they crashed nor burned.
How has their rotation done to this point? OK, mostly. It is not like they didn’t skip a beat, but they’ve certainly been competitive.
Of the major leagues' 30 teams, the Dodgers’ starting rotation ranks fifth in ERA (3.04), is tied for second with 14 wins, is 13th in innings pitched (189 1/3), 11th in opponent batting average (.247), and eighth in WHIP (1.21) and strikeouts per nine innings (7.89).
All with only one start from their two-time Cy Young winner.
Even with Ryu still on the DL with shoulder inflammation, the rotation gets a welcome look of normalcy with Kershaw returning to the mound against the Nationals. He may only play once every five days, but he is unquestionably one of the team’s leaders.
The Dodgers were 17-15 in games without Kershaw, a winning rate that just might take a tick forward with the return of the left-hander.