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Clayton Kershaw feels ‘100 percent’, could return soon

The Dodgers’ ace has been shelved for nearly two months with a herniated disk in his lower back.

Los Angeles Dodgers v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

After throwing a bullpen session on Saturday, Clayton Kershaw reported that he felt ‘100 percent’ on his road to recovery. Kershaw has been sidelined with a herniated disk in his lower back and hasn’t made a start since June 26.

The Dodgers—who have been extremely cautious with their ace regarding the injury—have Kershaw resting for two days before throwing another bullpen session on Tuesday. Other than that though, the team has been relatively tight-lipped about their rehab schedule and expectations so predicting Kershaw’s next start seems foolhardy.

Saturday’s bullpen session lasted just 22 pitches, so Tuesday’s session could involve an increase in workload. Furthermore, the Dodgers likely plan to put Kershaw through some live batting practice and a rehab assignment, which would put his earliest return date around mid-September.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was optimistic about the matter as well. From Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times:

“I thought it was successful,” Roberts said. “With my own eyes, I thought the intensity was there. Very productive.”

Kershaw tempered expectations though, suggesting that “until [I] face hitters, [I] don’t really know what to expect.”

In the midst of a division race, the Dodgers could certainly use their dominant lefty. The temptation to rush him—while it may exist—has been entirely resisted though so far by the Dodgers, and changing approach now would seem ill-advised. Just half of a game up on the Giants in the NL West standings, the Dodgers have relied on their bullpen heavily. Since the All-Star break in fact, no team has used their relievers as often as the Dodgers. With 136.1 innings logged in the second half of the season, the next closest team are the Braves with 126.2 innings.

While relying on a bullpen this much seems precarious, the Dodgers have still been winning and ensuring the health of their number one starter is paramount. Rushing Kershaw back now with the possibility of re-injuring during the postseason would be a much worse outcome than having him ready in the event of a Wild Card game.