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Clayton Kershaw is back tonight

May 6, 2014, 2:36 PM EDT

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After missing all of the 2014 season to date except that early start in Australia has been tough on Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers, but he’ll make his return tonight against the Washington Nationals.

Kershaw struck out nine batters over five innings in a minor-league rehab start last last week, his teres major muscle appearing to be in OK shape. In his absence, the Dodgders’ bullpen has had to work harder than any team’s pen in the National League, so his return is most welcome.

My feeling: this little stint on the DL may actually be a blessing in disguise for Kershaw and the Dodgers. Come September and, playoff gods willing, October, Kershaw will have far fewer innings on that arm and may be able to pitch deeper into games than he would if he had been going full-tilt since the start of the season.

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