After a successful rehab start in the minors this past Saturday, Clayton Kershaw (back) is returning to the Dodgers. The three-time Cy Young winner will take the hill Friday in Miami. He has not pitched since June 26, during which the Dodgers (77-60) have gone 36-24 and overtaken the Giants (73-64) by four games in the NL West.

“Kershaw coming back is a huge boost,” USA Today MLB writer Bob Nightengale said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “When he went down June 26, I thought they might be done, and sure enough, they just start piecemealing things together. They have a lot of depth in the organization and they’ve picked up about 12 games on the Giants during this stretch, where the Giants have just kind of collapsed. So if Kershaw is on – at least the Kershaw of old – he gives them a fighting chance to get to the World Series. If he’s not, they don’t have any chance. Just a chance to get in the playoffs. I can’t see them going deep without a healthy Kershaw.”

In the playoffs, no. But in the regular season, the Dodgers have held it together just fine.

“They’ve used 15 starters this year – five rookie starters,” Nightengale said. “These guys are young, too. This Dodger team is only going to get better as the years go on, but it’s amazing what they’ve done, and with everything that’s been thrown his way, David Roberts has really handled it well. If the season ended tomorrow, I think Dave Roberts would probably be the Manager of the Year winner.”

The Dodgers are closing in on their fourth consecutive playoff appearance. Don Mattingly won 92+ games in each of the last three seasons but never reached the World Series. Mattingly did a good job with the Dodgers, but Roberts, it seems, is doing even better.

“Roberts has faced so much adversity (with a) record number of players on the DL,” Nightengale said. “When Mattingly was there, he had a healthy Kershaw and a Greinke. This guy didn’t have Greinke obviously and a disabled Kershaw. So I just think everything he’s overcome, he’s done a marvelous job. It’s probably between him and Dusty Baker of the Nationals (for) Manager of the Year.”


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