Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw returned to the rotation after nearly a month Thursday in a possible NLCS preview against the Mets in New York. Kershaw needed the chance to knock off the rust a little, but he then settled in and the outing as a whole was very good.
The final line: 5 innings, one hit, one earned run, three walks and six strikeouts. He threw 74 pitches. Kershaw will not figure in the decision, as he departed with a 2-1 Dodgers lead and the Mets took the lead in the sixth.
Take note of Kershaw only allowing a single hit. It was a single in the first inning. Wrapped around that hit were three walks in the inning, forcing home the only run he allowed.
For that first inning, it had the look of a terrible outing. After all, a run on four baserunners is a 9.00 ERA and 4.00 WHIP. The run Kershaw walked home was only the seventh of his career. It was the first time since 2015 and only the second since 2012.
After that, he looked like the Clayton Kershaw we're used to seeing. He was perfect the rest of the way, retiring the last 13 batters he faced in order.
Of Kershaw's 74 pitches, he threw 46 strikes and got 13 swings and misses. The slider was particularly sharp, especially after the first inning, and he started to spot his fastball with precision. A quick look:
The return of Kershaw comes with nice timing for the Dodgers. Walker Buehler is out for the season and Tony Gonsolin is battling a forearm injury. With Dustin May having returned and now Kershaw joining the fray, the Dodgers have a full rotation along with Julio Urías, Andrew Heaney and Tyler Anderson.