After Opening Day came and passed without the sight of franchise stalwart Clayton Kershaw on the hill, many Dodger fans were left wondering just how soon their veteran ace would return from the Injury List. Plagued by injuries over the past four seasons, Kershaw saw his production slip significantly for the first time in his career. Despite seeing heavy regression, Kershaw was still able to post a 2.76 ERA over 161.1 innings pitched, making him an incredibly valuable pitcher to the Dodgers in 2019.
While Walker Buehler pitched excellent down the stretch in 2018 and looks poised to take the mantle of “Ace” from Kershaw on the Dodgers staff, Kershaw showed that despite his age, he can still put up big numbers when healthy. Never a pitcher who overly relied on power and still only in his age 31 season, Kershaw has the style to age well and successfully pitch for five to six more seasons – if he can stay healthy.
Clayton Kershaw Injury Status: Latest on Dodgers Pitcher’s Return
Currently, Kershaw is listed on the 10-Day Injury List for the Dodgers with shoulder inflammation. He threw a simulated game on Saturday, March 30th and is scheduled to make his debut appearance in a minor league rehab assignment on Thursday.
Manager Dave Roberts has been tight-lipped regarding the situation and his star pitcher’s potential return but has hinted that Kershaw is “In a really good spot right now physically.” With no news of any setbacks following Kershaw’s three inning simulated game, it can be safely expected that Kershaw is on pace for his minor league start on Thursday and could potentially rejoin the team as early as late April.
Given the fact that Kershaw’s injury set back his spring training timeline, the Dodgers will want to give him a couple of minor league starts in order to get ready before rejoining the big league club.
Dodger’s Pitching Staff Without Clayton Kershaw
Dodgers Pitching Staff
In the absence of Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers have been forced to give super-prospect Julio Urias some run at the big league level. Urias has the potential to be a future ace at the big league level and presents some excelllent upside while Kershaw remains on the shelf. Don’t be suprised to see Urias excell to start the season and force one of the Dodger’s other arms out of the rotation when Kershaw gets back.
However, Rich Hill is also notably absent from the roatation and has yet to throw a bullpen session. He can reasonably be expected to return this year, just a bit behind Kershaw. If Urias is able to stick around once Kershaw returns, he will face a near impossible task of cracking the loaded Dodger’s rotation upon Hill’s return.
All of this to say, the Dodgers have one of the deepest and most talented pitching staffs in the MLB, even considering the banged up state it is in now. Look for manager Dave Roberts to try and utilize that depth a bit more in 2019 to keep his big arms fresh for another (expected) deep playoff run.