SEATTLE — Clayton Kershaw will have a spot in the Dodgers’ playoff rotation, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts made clear on Saturday. The comments came before Kershaw’s start in Seattle against the Mariners, an outing that was pushed back five days as the left-hander has dealt with velocity issues in his past few starts.
Kershaw missed a month earlier this season with a left shoulder injury, but Roberts insisted the move was done to line up Kershaw’s starts as the team gets ready for the postseason, not because of injury.
He was originally slated to start on Monday against the Padres.
Despite the concerns about his diminished pitch speed, Roberts made it clear that Kershaw doesn’t have to worry about his spot in the playoff rotation, barring any sort of injury.
“I don’t think, for me, it’s a tryout for Clayton,” Roberts said. “I think his body of work, as recent as this year, speaks to how we trust him and value him. For me, it’s just a matter of where he’s at physically, and if he feels good physically, we’re going to run him out there.”
Roberts said that he was “hesitant” to put expectations on the lefty for Saturday’s start against Seattle after a 10 day layoff, and that the outing would probably be an abbreviated one with Kershaw only expected to go a few innings, with Emmet Sheehan coming in for a multi-inning relief appearance.
“I want him to go out there and compete like he does, and I’m going to watch the stuff,” Roberts said. “I’m gonna watch the swings and make a decision accordingly to win the game. So I really don’t have the expectation, if it’s two innings or it’s six innings. So I’m gonna go out there and watch every throw.”
Kershaw gave up five hits, five walks, and three earned runs over five innings in his last start in Miami on September 5, but the most alarming thing was that not one of Kershaw’s 84 pitches hit 90 miles per hour.
Roberts does expect Kershaw to hit 90 again at some point, but pointed to some changes in Kershaw’s approach as reasons for optimism moving forward.
“He’s used his curveball more, (and) he’s used his changeup more,” Roberts said. “So I think using his mitt more with command will allow for getting outs.”
Grove’s return expected soon
Michael Grove should return from the injured list sometime on the next homestand, according to Roberts. Grove has been out since August 6 because of right lat tightness. The second-year righty has a 2-3 record with a 6.61 ERA in 15 appearances this season, including 12 starts.
Roberts said he wasn’t sure exactly when Grove would be back, but expects to see him at some point next weekend when the Dodgers host the Giants.
David Peralta was back in the lineup one night after getting scratched with lower back tightness. Peralta hit sixth and played left field. He was replaced in Friday’s lineup by Kike Hernandez.
Dodgers’ rookie Bobby Miller made a bit of history on Saturday. By earning his 10th win of the season in LA’s 6-3 victory over the Mariners, Miller became the Dodgers’ first American-born starting pitcher with double-digit wins in his rookie season since Tim Belcher in 1988.
Roberts announced that Austin Barnes will get the start at catcher on Sunday to give Will Smith a day off. Smith told AM 570 LA Sports on Saturday that he played part of the season with a broken rib after he was hit by Cardinals pitcher Jake Woodford in late April, but is now fully healthy. Roberts also said that Chris Taylor will play on Sunday, with Miguel Rojas scheduled for a rest day.