Following his first rehab assignment with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes on April 25, Clayton Kershaw professed he was ready to pitch again in the big leagues. The Dodger ace reported no soreness and said he felt as though he hadn’t even pitched. The outing, his first since March 22, was a five-inning effort complete with six strikeouts and one run on two hits.
Despite Kershaw’s assertion that he was ready to come off the disabled list, the Dodgers made the decision to have him complete another rehab start — this time with their Double-A affiliate in Chattanooga, Tenn. Kershaw started for the Lookouts on Wednesday, increasing his pitch count to 86 pitches to go along with nine strikeouts.
Following the game, Kershaw discussed the difficulties of needing to be cognizant of a pitch count and how he thought he fared, via Ken Gurnick of Dodgers.com:
I think it went all right. I got my pitch count up there,” Kershaw said after the game. “With 87 [pitches], I would have liked to get through six or seven, but the goal was to get the pitch count up there,” Kershaw said. “It’s always hard when pitch counts are in the back of your mind, but the goal is to get the pitch count up there so that I’ll be ready to throw 100-plus pitches in the big leagues.
Kershaw wasn’t thrilled with news the next time he would step on the rubber would be with the Lookouts and not the Dodgers, and was sure to point out his disdain for the disabled list:
I’ve learned I don’t like it,” Kershaw told The AP about his DL stint. “As much as you try and be a part of this team, our team is playing right now while I’m in Chattanooga. It’s a weird process for me, and you kind of feel isolated a little bit. Hopefully I never have to do it again.”
With the rehab starts out of the way, Kershaw will likely join the Dodgers in Washington D.C., which is the final leg of their nine-game road trip. The reigning Cy Young Award winner is projected to start Monday, pushing Zack Greinke a day back to Tuesday.
Greinke has been tremendous in Kershaw’s absence and moved to 5-0 on the season with Wednesday’s win. The Dodgers have also gotten solid performances out of their remaining starters outside of Paul Maholm, who is likely headed to the bullpen.
While deciding which pitcher to move out of the rotation may be somewhat of an easy decision, the Dodgers will have to clear a spot on the roster for Kershaw and that may not prove quite as easy. With 13 pithcers currently on the 25-man roster, it’s likely one of the arms will be optioned to the minor leagues.
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