The Dodgers lost Clayton Kershaw to an elbow injury in the final weekend of the 2021 regular season, setting off a chain-reaction of events that ultimatey led to Max Scherzer’s dead arm being unable to take the ball in a crucial NLCS Game 6.
This year, Kershaw has been shut down a couple times by back issues, making just 20 starts so far this season. But he’s been outstanding in those starts, going 10-3 with a 2.42 ERA, and Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts thinks the time spent on the injured list will end up helping Kersh be fresh and ready for October, as Bill Plunkett reports in the Orange County Register.
“It’s great, it’s great,”
Roberts said of having a healthy Kershaw ahead of the postseason.
“For him to take that three-week little blow (on the IL) and get him back and throw the baseball the way he has since coming back – much needed. And it’s really good to see.”
According to Plunkett, Kershaw is feeling good, too, although he will always see room for improvement as this ultimate competitor is also his own biggest critic.
“I feel good. So physically, check that box. I feel like I’ve been able to bounce back pretty good. This was my first start on regular rest. I feel pretty good coming out of it too. So physically, no complaints there. This was a good test. I’ve faced a few good teams in there. Performance-wise, there’s obviously things I would like to do better. But overall, I think it’s been pretty good.”
The Dodgers’ approach all season has been focused on success through October and into November. When Kershaw threw seven perfect innings in his first start of the season, Roberts stuck to his plan and pulled Kersh, knowing he’d deal with backlash from people less invested in the team’s long-term success. Julio Urias and Tony Gonsolin have been two of the best pitchers in the National League this year, but neither will win the Cy Young Award because no Dodger pitcher was ever going to approach the quantity of innings Sandy Alcantara has posted for the Marlins.
There’s no guarantee this approach will work, even though Roberts has done just that a couple of times. But after running out of arms last October, L.A. seems focused on making sure that doesn’t happen again. Hopefully, that means a rested, effective Kershaw heading into October.
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