Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw cleared to return from injury on Thursday

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Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw will make his first start in nearly a month on Thursday, when he takes the mound against the New York Mets at Citi Field.

Kershaw has been sidelined since he exited a start against the San Francisco Giants on August 4 due to lower-back pain. The decision comes after the three-time Cy Young Award winner felt strong following a bullpen session on Monday.

Because he did not go on a rehab assignment, Kershaw’s workload likely will be limited at the start as he rebuilds arm strength and gears up for the postseason.

The 34-year-old is 7-3 with a 2.64 ERA in 15 starts this season. Kershaw pitched seven perfect innings before being pulled against the Minnesota Twins in his season debut April 13, and carried a perfect game into the eighth inning against the Los Angeles Angels on July 15.

Kershaw’s return comes at a good time for the Dodgers, who entered Tuesday with a major league-best 89-38 record.

Los Angeles recently announced that Walker Buehler will miss the rest of the season and potentially all next season after Tommy John Surgery. Fellow starter Tony Gonsolin, who is tied for the major league lead with 16 wins, was placed on the injured list earlier this week with a strained forearm.

Manager Dave Roberts said the Dodgers hoped to go to a six-man rotation before Gonsolin was injured, but will now go forward with a five-man rotation of Kershaw, Julio Urias, Andrew Heaney, Tyler Anderson and Dustin May.

"But it wouldn't surprise me if we reinstated someone at some point to give guys an extra day," Roberts said.