Dodgers: Should Clayton Kershaw Consider Returning Later in the Season?

With a little more wiggle room to prognostic this offseason thanks to the hot stove freeze, there’s time to sit back and explore some of the bigger question marks surrounding the Dodgers for 2022. The biggest question certainly lays within the starting rotation. Or lack thereof, really.

As we’ve stated here a few times over the winter, beyond Walker Buehler and Julio Urias atop the rotation, depth is stretched thin for Dave Roberts and the Dodgers. As it stands, Buehler and Urias will have some mix of Tony Gonsolin, David Price, and offseason acquisition Andrew Heaney behind them. Mitch White will pick up some more frequent flier miles next season as will Andre Jackson, who tossed only 11.2 innings in his debut season last year.

For the purposes of this article, we’ll omit Trevor Bauer from the running.

On the open market, long-time LA ace Clayton Kershaw remains and with questions of his own. Does he want to return to Dodger Stadium for a 15th season, play closer to his home and family in Dallas, Texas with the Rangers, or hang up the spikes and call it a career?

What we’ve learned about Clayton Kershaw over the years tells us that retirement probably isn’t in the cards just yet. Back in 2020 before the covid season got underway, Kershaw talked about his realization of how much he still loved playing the game. And, being the fierce competitor that he is, it’s easy to see him wanting to get his last few years of quality major league pitcher in before stepping away from the game. Plus he’s only 15 wins away from 200 in his career.

All that said, there is another key component to the Kershaw puzzle. He walked off the field hurt last season and never returned. Firstly, that can also be seen as a reason why he maybe wouldn’t quite be ready to walk away yet. He doesn’t want his last memory as a big leaguer to be this.

But the more important part of his moment is that it was the first elbow/forearm area injury of his career. Mid-October, Kershaw revealed that there was no damage to his elbow ligament (thankfully) but that he did receive a platelet rich plasma injection in his left forearm. With that would come a few months of inactivity before he could begin a light throwing program.

So, really, at this point, he still might not know quite where his arm is for the season coming up. Dodgers insider David Vassegh recently said that Kershaw is “still dealing with an arm issue” and that, while he “100%” expects him back in LA, it might not necessarily be to start the season. This is an idea I toyed with back in December. Could the left-hander take his time in returning to the Dodgers?

WATCH: Should Clayton Kershaw Return Later in the Season?

Back then I mentioned this.

One bold prediction could see the 33-year-old possibly remain home for the first month or so of the 2022 season before pulling a 2007 Roger Clemens and making a mid-season return. … Such a move allows Kershaw more time to rest and recover from an October PRP injection into his injured forearm/elbow area and slowly build back up early in the spring. Moreover, it frees him and the Dodgers from the pressure of trying to make an opening day start.

Back in October after the PRP injection, Clayton said that he expects to be good to go by spring training. But, maybe having him ramp up so soon could cost him a lot more down the road in the season when it matters more.

Despite the old postseason narrative, the left-hander was desperately missed last October.

Give it Few Months

In 2007, Roger Clemens — then 44 years old — signed mid-season with the Yankees and made his season debut in June. Clemens tossed 99 innings and helped New York secure the Wild Card spot in the AL. While Kershaw will be 10 years younger than that by the time the season rolls around, it’s important to note that he hasn’t eclipsed 200 innings since 2015. In fact, he’s only once topped 175 innings over that span (178.1 in 2019). 

So, it’s easy to think that limiting Kershaw’s innings (without it being an injured list stint) could only benefit the oft-injured ace.

Like we mention in the above video, a big sticking point for Kersh would likely be, if he’s healthy, he’s not going to let his team play while he somewhat arbitrarily sits on the sidelines and watches for a month or two.

NEXT: Major League Baseball and MLBPA Finally Have a Meeting Scheduled

Clint Pasillas

Clint Pasillas has been writing, blogging, and podcasting about the Los Angeles Dodgers since 2008. Under Clint's leadership as the Lead Editor, Dodgers Nation has grown into one of the most read baseball sites in the world with millions of unique visitors per month. Find him online on Twitter/X or his YouTube channel!


  1. Sounds like a good idea. I don’t see Kershaw pitching a complete season this year. Once the new CBA is signed and spring training starts, he can start throwing under the watchful eyes of trainers and coaches to test his arm. If all goes well, he can stay in playing shape and rejoin the team in June. He should know by then if his arm is good to go.

  2. kershaws a very talented competitor but he was never a fierce competitor. he was a little weak in that department. in the regular season he was alot better. but in the postseason his performance was all over the place. good and bad. until 2020 . the combination of the short schedule and playing at home all those games in front of his home town crowd was like wrapping him in a warm safe blanket . and that made him feel very comfortable so his best game showed up.

    1. Well friend, you say “never a fierce competitor’ is way off base, Seems like you never saw how he reacts after a poor outing or getting someone out in a key moment.

      1. Agreed. If anything, its seemed that he may have tried too hard in the PS at times.

  3. not wouldve been more correct than never. and he wasnt weak in the regular season. but he was a bundle of nerves in october and he definitely wasnt fierce in the postseason. fierce isnt the right word to describe clayton. talented. yes. his knowledge and control and deceptive pitch mix solid. but he didnt get over his nerves in the postseason until 2020 . alot of that was because the team played most of the games in front of his hometown dallas crowd and he was getting a ton of spiritual support. along with emotional and psychological support. and the season was so short and the other teams were floored by the coronavirus and not into it like the dodgers who were focused alot more. and they still almost lost. and the dodgers would have lost for certain if it had been a full season of 162 games. the dodgers are a losing organization for decades now. why? i think some of the fans are out of it in los angeles. if youre gonna play big league ball youve got to step up your games in LA. im not impressed with your playing abilities or reasoning processes involving the victory channel. its clear to me that the dodgers or their fans dont think to clearly in competitive sports. and from my perspective everybody on this planet is weak in the intellectual department . noiw if the dodgers were doing things right its going to show up in the world series championships category. when things arent being done the right way thats when losses occur. and when it drags on for five decades that can only mean that that everybodys thinking is incorrect in alot of ways. and it cant mean anything else if you really truly know how to reason clearly. everyone says they reason clearly. and everybody thinks they reason clearly. but when you lose at competitive sports or as an entire species that usually means that everybodys reasoning is incorrect to some extent. and youve been a losing organization for over 55 years. so what does that tell you? our whole species is like that. even the wealthiest are like that. surviving the universe or meeting alien life isnt going to be a party. its more like a nightmare. thgats one reason the dodgers cant win. they think its a party. and then they get careless and lose. then they get used to it. and they have trouble breaking out of that cycle. and it hurts everybodys brains to think too much. thats another problem. thats why you cant win.

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