As expected, the Dodgers have engaged legendary southpaw Clayton Kershaw for his start today. Justin Bruihl was optioned to Triple-A to open the roster spot, per MLB.com’s Juan Toribio (via Twitter).
The veteran southpaw was at his best before a balky back sent him to the injured list for 33 days. He returns owning a 1.80 ERA/2.27 FIP over 30 innings with a stunning 32-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Kershaw’s return couldn’t come at a better time, given the current uncertainty over the health of Walker Buehler. The Dodgers are clinging to a one-game lead over the Padres in the division. It’s too early to think about the standings, but given the competition in the NL West recently, there doesn’t figure to be much margin for error. Regardless, the Dodgers’ +109 run differential is the best mark in the National League by a decent margin (the Mets are second at +68). Even without Kershaw, the Dodgers rotation has set the tone with a league-leading 2.71 ERA.
Bruihl, 24, has been a vital cog for manager Dave Roberts’ bullpen since making his debut last season. Over the two seasons, the California native has a 3.34 ERA/4.35 FIP over 35 career innings. This season, Bruihl has a 3.86 ERA/4.79 FIP in 17 appearances totaling 16 1/3 innings. Bruihl has held lefties to a punchless .250/.273/.250 line in 35 plate appearances this season, but he’s given it back to righties, who have hit .269/.394/.539 across 34 plate appearances.