Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
The Los Angeles Dodgers are set to begin their postseason run on Saturday when Clayton Kershaw takes the ball to open the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium.
Kershaw has been pitching through an unspecified left shoulder injury that decreased his fastball velocity and affected command, and it also put his status up in the air for the postseason.
The southpaw was first placed on the 15-day injured list on July 3 due to what the Dodgers deemed as shoulder soreness. Kershaw wasn’t activated until August 10, and when he returned, it was easy to see the 35-year-old was not the same pitcher as before the injury.
It left Kershaw unsure what his future would hold, but he is now feeling better and attributed some of that to how the Dodgers have handled his starts, via Jack Harris of the L.A. Times:
“Honestly when I came back I didn’t really know what to expect,” said Kershaw, who missed more than a month in the middle of the year. “But I think, give Doc a lot of credit. He’s handled it really well, giving me some extra days to kind of get my feet under me. Now I feel pretty good. I feel I’m kind of turning a corner health-wise and feel good. So ready for the next one.”
In his eight starts since returning from the IL, Kershaw posted a solid 2.23 ERA to close out the season, but he admitted to there being difficulty in pitching with reduced ability.
“Not at all. I’d much rather just be good the whole time and throw as hard as I possibly could,” Kershaw said when asked if he likes the challenge of pitching in a new way. “I mean, it’s no fun to figure stuff out. But you know, adapt or die if you have to.”
The three-time Cy Young Award winner finished the season going 13-5 with a 2.46 ERA, 4.03 FIP, 1.06 WHIP and 9.4 strikeouts per nine across 131.2 innings pitched in 24 starts, which was his highest total since 2019.
Clayton Kershaw didn’t expect to start NLDS game
In the middle of September, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Bobby Miller would pitch one of the first two postseason games but stopped short of naming Kershaw as the other due to his health.
The feeling was no different for Kershaw during the second half of the season as he had questions about his ability to pitch in the playoffs due to the injury.
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