ARLINGTON, Texas – All-Star left-hander Clayton Kershaw is expected to face hitters in a simulated game Monday and could return for the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers as early as next weekend.
The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner, who hasn't pitched since June 27 because of left shoulder soreness, threw a bullpen session Friday before the Dodgers opened a three-game series at the AL West-leading Texas Rangers.
“It was upwards of 40 pitches, really good, competitive 'pen,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.
Roberts said Kershaw (10-4, MLB-best 2.55 ERA) won't make a rehab start before returning to the active roster.
“I think for me, I think for all of us, it’s either going to be two sim games and kind of add another inning, or after that sim game (Monday) then he’s activated,” the manager said.
The latest bullpen came three days after Kershaw had a session of more than 30 pitches in Baltimore. Roberts said he was happy with the progress, and said “everyone seems to be impressed,” including Kershaw and pitching coach Mark Prior.
Roberts said he expected the sim game Monday to be a three-inning situation against Dodgers hitters after they return home. That would be prior to the opener of a three-game series against Toronto. They have an off day after that series before opening a home set against Cincinnati next Friday.
The extended break could prove beneficial for the 35-year-old Kershaw as the Dodgers seek their 10th NL West title in 11 seasons.
“If he gets back and throws the way that we expect, it’s going to be a great break and it’ll be much needed,” Roberts said. "It’ll kind of be that reset to get him through October, so I think that’s why right now we’re just trying to be super cautious and do as much to sustaining health the rest of the way as he possibly can.”
Kershaw threw six scoreless innings at Colorado in his last game, which came a week after seven scoreless innings against the Angels. He was 4-0 with a 1.09 ERA in five starts in June.
The Dodgers placed Kershaw on the 15-day IL on July 3, a day after he was named to the All-Star team for the 10th time to match the most selections in franchise history. He attended the All-Star Game last week in Seattle even though he wasn't able to pitch.
The series in Texas marks the Dodgers' first games at Globe Life Field since winning the neutral-site 2020 World Series after they also won the NL Division Series and NL Championship Series there during the pandemic-impacted season. The stadium is only about 25 miles from Kershaw's home, where he is staying this weekend.