It was already reported that Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw would be returning from the injured list when active rosters expand from 26 to 28 players at the beginning of September, but we got a little more clarity on Monday as to what the time between now and then will look like.
Reports on Sunday were that Kershaw’s next step would be a bullpen session, followed by a simulated game a few days later.
Those plans apparently changed at some point, though, because there Kershaw was on the mound at Dodger Stadium on Monday afternoon, facing Hanser Alberto, Trayce Thompson, and Joey Gallo in a three-inning sim game.
The plan now is for Kershaw to travel to Miami with the team and throw another sim game on Saturday, this one stretched out to four innings. Assuming all goes well in his recovery from both sim games, he would then be activated when rosters expand and rejoin the starting rotation.
Kershaw has been outstanding this season when healthy, posting a 2.64 ERA in 15 starts. But he has also missed about two months of the season with two separate stints on the injured list because of back problems.
With the Dodgers holding an insurmountable lead over the Padres in the National League West and a solid lead over the Mets in the race for the best record in baseball, they can afford to slow-play Kershaw’s return. They don’t need anything from him in September; their goal is for him to be healthy and effective in the postseason, and they’re surely cognizant of last season, when Kershaw returned from the IL in early September only to go down with an arm injury in the last weekend of the season and miss all of October.
The goal, presumably, is to prevent a replay of 2021.
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