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Baseball Daily Dose

Daily Dose: Here Comes Kershaw

by Nathan Grimm
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Clayton Kershaw enjoyed his rehab stint.

Also, he hopes it's the last time he ever has to do one.

Kershaw, rehabbing from a back injury, threw five innings of one-run ball for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Saturday, after which he said he's ready to rejoin the big league club. He also said he never wants to make a Triple-A rehab start again.

“This was fun,” Kershaw told reporters afterwards. “I hope I don’t ever do it again, but it was fun.”

Kershaw struck out eight in the rehab start, allowing only two hits -- one being a Jorge Soler solo homer -- without issuing a free pass. Dodgers management had kicked around the idea of letting Kershaw make that start with the major league team but chose to play it safe with their ace.

Having passed that test, the southpaw is set to rejoin the Dodgers' rotation next weekend against the Padres. That start will likely come Friday in San Diego.

Kershaw has been out since July 24 due to a lower back strain suffered during a July start against the Braves. A September 1 return would align with the 4-6 week timetable offered when he sustained the injury.

Prior to getting hurt, he was once again one of the best in the business. Through 21 starts, the 29-year-old was 15-2 with a 2.04 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 168/24 K/BB ratio. Even having missed the past month, Kershaw still leads the National League with his 15 wins.

In case fantasy owners needed to see something before inserting him back into their lineups, Saturday's dominance serves that purpose. Let it fly.

Editor’s Note: Win a FREE trip to the World Series plus cash prizes!

 

Holland Falters Again; Rox Assessing

Greg Holland throws a slider approximately half the time.

So when Holland's slider becomes a "problem," well, that's a problem.

Holland struggled again Saturday, allowing three hits, including a two-run home run, while recording just one out, eventually being lifted for Jake McGee. McGee was able to get the final two outs to preserve a 7-6 Rockies win over the Braves.

For Holland, though, the hits keep coming, literally and figuratively. He's now allowed multiple runs in three of his last four appearances and in five of his last eight. And the problem, Rockies manager Bud Black said, starts with the pitch he throws the most.

"We have to address the slider a little bit and make sure we get the right rotation, the good spin on it, see if Greg has anything to say about the slider," Black said. "The velocity's fine. It's just the location of the slider is the problem here, and we've got to get to the bottom of it."

According to FanGraphs, Holland throws his slider 49.8 percent of the time, compared to 42.9 percent for his fastball and 6.4 percent for his curve. It's no surprise, then, that the pitch is also his most valuable on a per-pitch basis.

And while Holland works through his issues, the Rockies are in the midst of a playoff race. The team can't afford to let Holland figure it out in the ninth inning of close games, especially with other guys like McGee, Pat Neshek and Adam Ottavino in the bullpen, all of whom have saved games at the major league level.

McGee's call Saturday was one of opportunity more than anything -- Neshek had already pitched the eighth inning in anticipation of a successful Holland save, and Ottavino had pitched in the two days prior. Neshek, with a microscopic ERA this year and plenty of experience, may be the odds-on favorite for saves if Holland is removed from the role.

For now, though, Black isn't giving clues one way or the other.

"We'll talk about it, but we've got to make sure there are not other things going on," Black said. "But we feel pretty confident that physically Greg is good. We'll get some things straightened out."

Duffy Hits Shelf With Elbow Issue

Danny Duffy was set to start in Sunday's series finale against the Indians.

Instead, he'll take a seat.

Duffy was placed on the 10-day disabled list Saturday with a left elbow impingement. The move was retroactive to his last start.

Despite the bad news, the silver lining is that the club has hopes that Duffy will miss only the only start. Eric Skoglund will start for the Royals on Sunday instead.

The southpaw underwent an MRI Saturday, and the results should be known Sunday. A clearer picture of Duffy's outlook will be available after that.

National League Quick Hits: Rhys Hoskins homered for the fourth game in a row Saturday against the Cubs. Hoskins hit a two-run blast off Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks in the first inning. The outfielder can't be stopped, homering in seven of his last eight games to give him 10 through his first 17 games as a major leaguer ... Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Saturday that Cody Bellinger (ankle) will be activated Wednesday if his recovery continues to go well. Bellinger himself said Saturday that his sprained right ankle is "100 percent." It seemed that the Dodgers were just being extra cautious in placing Bellinger on the disabled list last week, so it's not a surprise that it looks like he'll be ready to roll when first eligible ... Max Scherzer (neck) will rejoin the Nationals' rotation on Monday against the Marlins. Erick Fedde will get a start along with Tanner Roark during Sunday's doubleheader against the Mets, and Scherzer will make his return a day later. The Nationals' ace has been dealing with a nagging neck problem lately but threw a bullpen session Friday and played catch Saturday with no issues ... Jedd Gyorko was yanked from Saturday's game versus the Rays with a right hamstring injury. Gyorko hurt himself while rounding third base in the bottom of the eighth inning and had to retreat back to the bag rather than attempt to score. He immediately pulled himself from the game and walked off gingerly, so it's possible he'll be out a while ... Anthony Rizzo finished 3-for-5 with two homers and five RBI in the Cubs' 17-2 drubbing of the Phillies on Saturday. Rizzo had two of the Cubs' six homers in the lopsided win, taking Phils starter Ben Lively deep in the third and fifth innings. He's now reached the 30-homer plateau four years running, and he's well on his way to a third straight 100-RBI season, owning 90 RBI after Saturday's contest ... Pirates placed C Francisco Cervelli on the 10-day disabled list with left quad irritation. Cervelli just returned from a wrist injury Friday, only to suffer a quad injury in his first game back. It's unclear how long he'll be sidelined ... Tommy Pham hit a two-run, walk-off homer -- one of three runs he scored on the night -- to give the Cardinals a 6-4 win over the Rays on Saturday. Pham went down to get a Brad Boxberger slider, yanking it into the left-center field bleachers to send the crowd home happy. He was in the middle of the action all night, scoring three of the Cards' six runs in the victory ... DJ LeMahieu went 3-for-5 with a pair of home runs as the Rockies held off the Braves 7-6 on Saturday. LeMahieu hit a solo homer in the fifth inning and teed off again in the ninth, bumping his home run total from four to six in the span of a few innings. The 29-year-old has been one of the league's best hitters since the All-Star break, as he's now hitting .333 with those two homers since the Midsummer Classic ... Gerrit Cole fired seven shutout frames and homered for the only run of the game as he single-handedly beat the Reds 1-0 on Saturday. He scattered five hits -- all singles -- and struck out six batters without issuing a walk in the remarkable performance. He improves to 11-8 with a 3.99 ERA and 1.23 WHIP in 27 starts ... Tommy La Stella went 3-for-5 with a pair of homers and four RBI in Saturday's win over the Phillies. La Stella had just two hits in his previous 12 at-bats spanning seven games.

American League Quick Hits: Jose Altuve (neck) was back in the Astros' lineup Saturday. Altuve was pulled from Thursday's game against the Nationals due to neck discomfort and sat out Friday, but it obviously wasn't serious ... Yankees activated 1B Greg Bird from the 60-day disabled list. He returned to the starting lineup on Saturday, collecting a hit and a pair of walks in a win ... also back Saturday was Mike Moustakas (knee). He was in the designated hitter spot, as the Royals try to keep Moose off his sore right knee as much as possible ... Joey Gallo (concussion) is expected to be activated when first eligible on Tuesday. It appears that Gallo's concussion symptoms are in the rear view mirror. "I've been on the field the past two days, hitting in batting practice and getting into baseball shape," Gallo said Saturday. "I feel healthy. I feel normal. That's a good sign" ... Indians manager Terry Francona said Saturday that Danny Salazar (elbow) is nearing either a bullpen session or simulated game. Salazar landed on the disabled list earlier this week with an elbow issue, but an MRI showed no structural damage and it's looking like it will be a short absence for the righty. He posted a 2.68 ERA over his last six starts before going on the DL ... Lonnie Chisenhall (calf) will begin a rehab assignment on Sunday. Chisenhall will play Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday before likely then being activated when rosters expand on September 1 if all goes well. He's been on the shelf since mid-July with a right calf strain ... Mike Clevinger struck out nine across six shutout innings in Saturday’s 4-0 victory over the Royals. The Royals made Clevinger work with 106 pitches thrown over his six frames, but the right-hander surrendered only four hits – all singles – while walking two. Clevinger has been hit-or-miss over the last month and had lasted a total of seven innings in his previous two outings. He was excellent in this one, though, in tying his career high with nine punchouts ... Chad Pinder popped a pair of solo home runs off Cole Hamels to lead his squad to an 8-3 victory over the Rangers on Saturday. He went yard off the veteran left-hander in each of his first two at-bats and later walked and scored in the fifth inning. The rookie has played second base, shortstop and outfield for Oakland this year. He has a .249/.301/.478 triple slash with 12 longballs and 31 RBI in 66 games ... Kevin Gausman shut down the Red Sox on Saturday, hurling 7 2/3 scoreless innings in a 7-0 victory. He notched five strikeouts against three walks and allowed just four knocks in the gem start against one of the best teams in the majors. Gausman had a very poor first half of the season but has turned things around in a major way since the All Star break ... Garrett Richards (biceps) will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Salt Lake on Wednesday. Richards threw three innings in a simulated game Friday and is set to go three innings again Wednesday in what will be his first game action since he left his first start of the season with a nerve issue in his right biceps muscle. He would figure to need at least a couple additional rehab outings after Wednesday before being an option for the Angels' rotation.