LOS ANGELES — Clayton Kershaw marked the 10-year anniversary of his major league debut for the Los Angeles Dodgers on the disabled list. However, the three-time Cy Young Award winner is getting closer to returning.
Kershaw is set to throw a four-inning simulated game on Saturday at Dodger Stadium, the next step in his recovery from left biceps tendinitis.
If he comes out of it with no issues, the Dodgers will decide whether to send him on a minor league rehab assignment or return him to their rotation.
Kershaw hasn't pitched in a game since May 1 in Arizona, where he struck out six and walked one, but allowed a pair of home runs. He shut himself down during warmups for a May 4 bullpen session in Monterrey, Mexico, when he felt pain in the area where the biceps attach to the shoulder.
He threw a 54-pitch bullpen on Wednesday, 24 more than originally planned. Manager Dave Roberts said Kershaw wasn't pleased with his pitch execution, but otherwise felt fine.
On Saturday, Roberts and management will be monitoring Kershaw's arm strength and health.
"When you're talking about potentially activating a player, you want that to trend the right way. Clayton would want that, too," Roberts said Friday. "I think that he's going to use his pitch mix and see the execution and see how the ball's coming out (of his hand)."
Kershaw began this season with a 144-64 record and a 2.36 ERA in 292 career games, including 290 starts.
The Dodgers have made just one World Series appearance during his career, losing to the Houston Astros in seven games last year. His playoff numbers aren't nearly as impressive as what he's done in the regular season. In seven post-season appearances, he is 4-7 with a 4.55 ERA.
On May 25, 2008, the Dodgers sent Kershaw to the mound as their No. 1 prospect for the first time against the Cardinals at Chavez Ravine. The left-hander allowed two runs and five hits in six innings, while striking out seven and not figuring in the decision, a 4-3, 10-inning win by the Dodgers.
He would earn his first big league win two months later, tossing six scoreless innings in a 2-0 victory over Washington.
At the time, Kershaw was the fourth-youngest starter in Los Angeles history and the majors' youngest player at 20 years, 65 days. He went 5-5 with a 4.26 ERA in 22 games over two stints in his first MLB action that season.
Since then, he has established himself as one of baseball's most dominant pitchers, winning NL MVP honours in 2014 and Cy Young Awards in 2011, '13 and '14, and being a seven-time All-Star.
Kershaw has led the majors in ERA (2.37), opponents' average (.206), WHIP (1.00), shutouts (15) and winning percentage (.681) since making his debut. He ranks second among big leaguers in strikeouts with 2,168, fifth in wins (145) and third in complete games (25).
"There's obviously a remarkable evolution but in that same breath, just the consistency that he's had over those 10 years being so dominant," said Roberts, who is in his third season with the Dodgers. "Just to get to know him in the last couple years has been great for me and my growth. He's such a tremendous human and obviously a future Hall of Famer."
Kershaw has come a long way off the field, too.
He married his wife, Ellen, in 2010 and the couple has two children, Cali and Charley. The couple, who live in Dallas in the off-season, founded their non-profit Kershaw's Challenge in 2011 that works with organizations in the U.S. and aboard to help at-risk communities and children.
"His philanthropic heart and mind has really helped other guys," Roberts said, noting Justin Turner, Yasiel Puig and Kenley Jansen are active in Los Angeles area charities. "When you see a guy like that take the lead, others follow. When he's not active, he's out here on the bench cheering on the guys in the game. That's how he gets a lot of respect from the other guys."
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