Kershaw upbeat after 3-inning rehab start

September 8th, 2021

ST. LOUIS -- For the first time since July 3, Dodgers left-hander took the mound in a competitive game.

Kershaw made his first rehab start with Triple-A Oklahoma City on Tuesday, allowing two runs over three innings and throwing 49 pitches. The goal coming into the outing was for Kershaw to get through three innings and throw at least 45 pitches.

“It was good to be back out there and I felt all right, overall,” Kershaw said. “Obviously I’d love to throw 110 [pitches] and be ready to throw seven or eight [innings], but that’s just not the reality of it. I just need to try and keep building from there and get to 60 [pitches], or whatever I do next.”

The left-hander said he didn’t think his stuff was at its best. He gave up a two-run homer to catcher Brian Serven in the second inning on a breaking ball that stayed up in the zone. He even mixed in some changeups. But results aside, the main takeaway was that Kershaw was back on the mound and felt good.

His next step will be to rejoin the Dodgers in St. Louis on Wednesday and see how his elbow bounces back after the outing. If everything feels good, Kershaw will continue to go through his normal in-between start routine. Now, the question is where Kershaw makes his next appearance.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said on Monday that if Kershaw’s arm bounces back well, they’re hopeful the left-hander could be ready to make his next start in the Majors. That would line him up to start either on Sunday against the Padres or Monday against the D-backs. Los Angeles could also choose to give Kershaw another rehab outing or simulated game in order to continue his buildup.

“I think that’s probably a discussion tomorrow,” Kershaw said on what’s next. “A lot of it is based on our rotation, how things look and different things like that. Obviously I’m not built up for a full start yet, so I think a lot of things are in consideration. We’ll see how it goes.”

Regardless of where he makes his next start, Kershaw taking the mound in a competitive game on Tuesday was a big step in his recovery. The injury has lasted far longer than Kershaw and the Dodgers would’ve liked, but it seems like he’s nearing a return.

The Dodgers have been succeeding through bullpen games, but that doesn’t prove to be sustainable once the team enters the postseason. With Kershaw and Tony Gonsolin both nearing returns from their respective injuries, the Dodgers could return to a more traditional five-man rotation soon.

But the work isn’t quite over for Kershaw.

“I think by the time October rolls around, I should be around 100 pitches or so, which is the goal,” Kershaw said. “But it’s going to take some work, you know, I've got to keep going and I've got to keep building. The building process is definitely not over yet, for sure.”