Dodgers News: For Clayton Kershaw, Being ‘Healthy At The Right Time’ Means Everything

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The Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Colorado Rockies, 6-1, on Wednesday with Clayton Kershaw making his final start before the postseason.

Kershaw wound up tossing five innings, striking out nine, while allowing just one run on a solo homer. Despite a few hiccups that landed him on the 15-day injured list in 2022, Kershaw displayed a new version of himself that felt like a renaissance performance.

In 22 starts this year, Kershaw finished the regular season with a 2.28 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, and 137 strikeouts across 126.1 innings. Outside of the shortened season in 2020, Kershaw posted his lowest earned run average since 2016 when he held a 1.69 ERA.

On Wednesday, Kershaw treated his start like a tuneup, throwing more curveballs than he had in prior outings, but holding a hot Rockies lineup to one hit over five innings signaling the 34-year-old is primed for a postseason push.

“Today was good. I felt a little bit better stuff-wise than in my last one. I felt like the spin on my slider and curveball were a little bit better, which was good,” Kershaw said after Wednesday’s game.

“I’m glad I got this last start. I’m glad I got to do it. Didn’t feel good in the last start with my stuff, so glad I got to do it. And overall, thankful for another season. I didn’t quite make it through this year but I’m healthy at the right time, which is huge for me. Overall, thankful for another year.”

Kershaw was unable to pitch in last year’s playoffs because of left elbow/forearm troubles, and his absence exacerbated the lack of starting pitching which ultimately sunk the Dodgers. After an IL stint in August, many feared Kershaw could possibly miss another postseason, but his outings since Sept. 1 have erased any doubts about the Hall of Famer.

“Coming back was huge. I’m thankful when my back kind of gave out in San Fran, it wasn’t a super serious thing. I just needed a couple weeks to recent. And the timing, I was thankful for that more than anything,” Kershaw reflected.

“September 1 to now to get ready, so got a full five weeks basically. Got to build up, got to get ready. You can’t ask for anything more to get ready. I feel like I’m in as good of spot as I’m going to be.”

Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman made Kershaw his No. 1 priority in the offseason with the understanding he was coming off of an elbow injury. His return has been a steady presence for the rotation and the team winning 111 games while setting a franchise record, validates his decision to return now that he is healthy.

“That’s fun. That’s why I wanted to be here. Back in March, thinking about your life and different options, this is what we want to do,” Kershaw said. “That doesn’t mean it’s just going to come easy. Obviously, it’s going to be a grind and it’s going to be a challenge, but that’s why I’m here. That’s what I want. I’m looking forward to the next one.”

Dave Roberts thankful Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers are healthy

Down the stretch of the season the Dodgers didn’t have particularly much to play for other than seeding purposes. They had the National League West title locked up at the earliest date in franchise history, and while the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets battled until the last week of the regular season to decide a division winner, the Dodgers’ job was to enter the playoffs as healthy as possible.

Manager Dave Roberts had the unfortunate task of trying to fill the void of Kershaw and Max Muncy last season after they both went down with injuries days before the postseason, but what a difference a year makes and the club will begin play on Oct. 11 at Dodger Stadium.

“I know it wasn’t a year ago today, but after Game 162 last year, hearing about the X-rays with Max (Muncy) having a fracture, and knowing we were potentially going to lose him for the postseason — which we did — I feel a lot better,” Roberts said about escaping the regular season without unexpected injuries.

“Much better feeling in my stomach.”

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