Dodgers’ ace Kershaw returns versus Phillies

LOS ANGELES — Clayton Kershaw will not get any breaks in his return from nearly a month away with left biceps tendonitis.

The Los Angeles Dodgers‘ staff ace will be back in action Thursday and will have to face off with Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Aaron Nola, who has already pitched five times in May and has given up one earned run or fewer in four of those outings.

“Kershaw, Noles, getaway day in Los Angeles, that’s kind of cool,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said, according to MLB.com. “I had a couple people text me, ‘Hey, I’m coming to the game on Thursday.’ I’m like, ‘Awesome, you get to see Nola vs. Kershaw.'”

Kershaw’s start to the season was a mixed bag as he did not look as sharp as usual but he posted a 2.86 ERA over seven starts. Yet despite the limited runs allowed, the Dodgers were 2-5 in Kershaw’s starts and the left-hander himself was 1-4.

In trying to predict how Kershaw might perform Thursday after his month-long layoff, he went six scoreless innings against the Padres last year after missing five weeks with lower back tightness. And in 2016, he gave up two runs in three innings while throwing 66 pitches after missing more than two months with a back issue.

“Being on the DL is no fun,” Kershaw said. “I’m thankful it wasn’t too incredibly long. … You don’t feel a part of the team a whole lot when you’re on the DL. It’ll feel good to be out there and hopefully help a little bit.”

Kershaw is 3-5 lifetime against the Phillies with a 3.16 ERA in 12 starts.

Even without Corey Seager, who is lost for the season after Tommy John surgery, the May version of the Dodgers’ offense has improved on the one that was not helping Kershaw all that much in the early going.

Yet it will be a challenge to get anything going against Nola, who is in line for National League Pitcher of the Month honors if he throws another gem against the Dodgers.

Nola has allowed only one run in starts against the San Francisco Giants, New York Mets and Toronto Blue Jays this month. He began May with a scoreless outing against the Miami Marlins. Only the St, Louis Cardinals got to him May 20 as he gave up four runs over six innings and took his only loss since April 16.

In his only career start against the Dodgers last season, Nola gave up two runs on five hIts over seven innings and picked up the victory.

Adding to the issues for both offenses is a 4:30 p.m. local start, when shadows are expected to be stretched across the field in the early innings.

The Dodgers are 6-3 on their season-long 10-day homestand that concludes Thursday. They will head on a six-game road trip to Colorado and Pittsburgh.

The Phillies are 1-2 on their 10-game, 11-day trip to L.A., San Francisco and Chicago to face the Cubs.