Having spent the first full month of the season without staff ace Clayton Kershaw, the Los Angeles Dodgers are finally drawing closer to having their starting rotation fully intact for the first time. The left-hander successfully completed his latest rehab appearance on Wednesday and will join the team in Miami this weekend to throw his next bullpen session. Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register notes that Kershaw is penciled in to take the mound on Monday in Washington, allowing the team to push Zack Greinke back a day.
Kershaw's final rehab start came with Los Angeles' Double-A affiliate, with the southpaw throwing 86 pitches over five innings of work. He allowed two runs (one earned) on six hits, walking two and striking out nine. The Dodgers had been aiming for him to throw between 75-80 pitches in the outing, but there hardly seemed to be much concern about him exceeding that limit.
"I would like to have gotten through six or seven innings, but I had a good time working with these guys," Kershaw told reporters following the game. "It's tough when pitch counts are in the back of your mind. Obviously the main goal of why I was here was to get my pitch count up and be ready to throw 100 plus pitches in the big leagues. At the same time, you're trying to compete, too. Fortunately for me, I am kind of done with that and can go pitch now." The winner of two of the last three NL Cy Young Awards, Kershaw won the team's season-opening game in Australia before landing on the disabled list with a strained muscle in his upper back. It's an injury that he's been anxious to return from, but Los Angeles has remained steadfast in their desire to treat his recovery with caution given how important the lefty is to their season plans.