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Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw will make his first start in nearly a month on Thursday, manager Dave Roberts told reporters. Kershaw is slated to square off against the New York Mets in what could prove to be a potential preview of this fall's National League Championship Series. Roberts made the announcement Tuesday, ahead of the series opener.

Kershaw did not go out on a rehab assignment, meaning his workload is likely to be limited at the onset as he rebuilds his arm strength ahead of the postseason. 

Kershaw, 34 years old, has not appeared in a contest since Aug. 4 because of lower back pain. Prior to being placed on the shelf, he had started 15 times and accumulated a 2.64 ERA (158 ERA+) and a 5.87 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 85 ⅓ innings pitched. His performance was worth an estimated 1.8 Wins Above Replacement, per Baseball Reference's calculations, and earned him his ninth All-Star Game appearance and his first start in the Midsummer Classic.

The Dodgers will no doubt be thrilled to have Kershaw back in the fold. They recently announced that Walker Buehler will miss the rest of this season and potentially all of next because of Tommy John surgery. Fellow starter Tony Gonsolin, meanwhile, was placed on the IL earlier this week with a strained forearm.

Kershaw's return will give the Dodgers the ability to trot out a starting rotation that features four left-handers, with Julio Urías, Andrew Heaney, and Tyler Anderson joining Kershaw. Dustin May, who only just returned to the rotation himself, will serve as the lone right-hander for the time being.

The Dodgers entered Tuesday with an 89-39 record on the year, giving them the best mark in the majors. Their plus-286 run differential is also tops in the sport, with only the New York Yankees being within 100 runs of them in that category.