Clayton Kershaw

It’s been almost two months since Clayton Kershaw made his last appearance for the Los Angeles Dodgers. After setbacks and a failed attempt at coming back too soon, it seems like the team’s ace is close to making his return to the pitcher’s mound.

Kershaw threw a 40-pitch bullpen session and will have a 60-pitch simulated session against live hitters this week, as the Dodgers feel more and more optimistic that the back pains troubling him for the last few months are finally over. So optimistic that the talk of Kershaw making two rehab starts is down to one, and he might be ready to go for that minor league start in less than two weeks, which means he could be back for the Dodgers before the end of the regular season.

The Dodgers, despite rotation injuries and other problems, have done quite well in his absence. Since June 26, they’re 29-19, taking over first place in the NL West, opening a two-game lead over the Giants, although that has a lot to do with San Francisco crumbling since the All-Star break. Kershaw pitched against the Pirates that day, resulting in only his second loss as a starter this year, leaving after six innings.

Besides that, he’s been terrific all season, or what he’s been able to play of it: He’s gone 11-2 with a 1.79 ERA, throwing 3 complete games and 3 shutouts, while posting a ridiculous 16.11 strikeout-per-walk ratio, allowing only 0.7 walks per nine innings, and giving up just 5.9 hits per nine innings, the best numbers of his career.

The Dodgers are obviously taking their time with the 28 year-old, having no problem shutting him down for the year, considering he has four more years on his deal (unless he opts out after 2018) worth $143.4 million.

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