The fine people of Oklahoma City were treated to their most exceptional athletic display since the days of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook on Tuesday night, as Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw hit Bricktown Ballpark in an effort to prove he wasn’t a cupcake after all.
Though there won’t be much of a runway for Kershaw to return to full-strength with the big-league club, he might be cleared for takeoff sooner rather than later.
At the very least, Tuesday’s outing was a huge step forward after Dave Roberts spent all of August being nebulous and confusing about Kershaw’s return date.
For about a month there, he was simply … playing catch. That’s it. That’s all.
On Tuesday night, the lefty ace looked much like himself, though, appearing in a professional game for the first time since July 3 and scattering a few hits and two runs (no walks) across three innings of work.
He even ripped off a few of his trademark snapdragon curveballs, which kept the exceedingly unprepared Triple-A offense off balance.
Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw is nearly ready for primetime.
Not quite “The Palm Beach Cardinals vs Jacob deGrom” in terms of a minor-league squad being overmatched and loving it, but pretty darn close.
Kershaw will need some more time in the minors before he’s ready to bear the burden of a full big-league workload, but he likely won’t require more than an MLB start or two before he can be penciled in as a … No. 3 starter in October.
Never before has Los Angeles entered the postseason with such a stacked group of rotation options, pushing Kershaw out of a position of pressure. Ironically, this might be the year the postseason never stretches long enough to get him on the mound; LA’s due for a one-game Wild Card matchup at the moment.
Can Max Scherzer carry them past the Reds or Padres? Hopefully! But there’s at least a minuscule chance the Dodgers will never get to unfurl Kershaw, Walker Buehler, and Julio Urias after all.
On a more positive note, though, there are plenty of other rotation options who can continue shouldering the burden of a September playoff push while the lefty continues to knock the rust off at the lower levels.
Was Kershaw’s outing vs. Albuquerque perfect? By no means; he would’ve liked to have scattered fewer hits, surely.
But he felt good enough to give the minor-leaguers a couple showings of his signature sauce, so it could’ve gone worse for sure.