Dodgers News: Andrew Friedman Believes Clayton Kershaw Will Be ‘Ready To Go’ On Opening Day

Clayton Kershaw overcame a setback to rejoin the Los Angeles Dodgers starting rotation for the final month of the 2021 season, but was unable to pitch in the postseason due to another bout with left forearm inflammation.

The left-hander failed to get out of the second inning in his final tuneup against the Milwaukee Brewers on Oct. 1, which was his fourth start since returning from the 60-day injured list. He previously was sidelined for eight weeks because of left forearm inflammation/elbow soreness.

Fortunately for Kershaw, an MRI ruled out any damage to his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL). He addressed the injury with a a platelet-rich plasma injection (PRP) injection prior to the National League Division Series and expressed confidence that along with time off would remedy the issue.

Despite the optimism, Kershaw was not extended a qualifying offer in free agency. Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman explained that was a result of the organization not wanting to rush Kershaw into a decision.

Even though he is no longer under contract, Friedman expects Kershaw to be ready for Opening Day, via Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times:

“We believe that he is going to be healthy and ready to go on opening day,” said Friedman, who added that Kershaw has not started throwing yet. “From his standpoint, he wants to get there and get throwing and get off the mound.”

Since Friedman’s comments, it’s plausible Kershaw may have resumed throwing. The 33-year-old is coming off an effective, albeit injury-shortened season in which he posted a 3.55 ERA and 3.00 FIP over 121.2 innings of work with a 3.4 WAR.

Kershaw is one of the top free agents remaining on the board but can not sign with a team until the MLB lockout ends. The consensus this winter has been that he will ultimately decide between re-signing with the Dodgers, joining his hometown Texas Rangers, or retiring.

Kershaw wants more emphasis on starting pitching

Bullpen games continued to grow in popularity last year, with the Dodgers and several other teams using them at least a handful of times over the course of the 2021 season.

While Kershaw isn’t against bullpen games, he did note that he wants to see more of an emphasis placed on the starting pitching matchup when two elite arms face each other.

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