Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error “I caught two (of Kershaw’s) bullpens,” Ruiz said. “That was fun to catch him. He was throwing a lot of strikes. I can’t wait for the opportunity to catch him.”It’s stunning to consider how much 75 days can shift the course of a baseball season. Then again, all Kershaw has to do is look to his left.On June 26, the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Dodgers 4-3 at PNC Park. Kershaw suffered his second loss of the season. Three days later he was diagnosed with a mild disc herniation in his lower back and he hasn’t pitched in a major league game since.That will change Friday in Miami, when Kershaw starts the Dodgers’ series opener against the Marlins.“We’re excited for us as a team, but I think that we’re excited for Clayton too,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “It’s been a season of highs and lows. For him to watch his teammates the last two and a half months, it’s been very difficult. So the anticipation to get him back on Friday, yeah, we’re very excited.” Kershaw was 11-2 with a 1.79 ERA at the time of his injury. The Dodgers’ resiliency in the meantime has been well-documented. They trailed the first-place Giants by eight games in the National League West after the June 26 loss in Pittsburgh. Now they lead the division by a season-high five games.For a pitcher who’s started an average of 32 games the last seven seasons, the waiting was the hardest part. Kershaw alluded to that Sunday, when he told reporters “I didn’t really learn anything other than it’s not fun to not play.”Privately, Kershaw tried to put on a good face for his teammates, but Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen said “you could tell that he felt that pain for two months.”Physical or emotional?“He’s an emotional guy,” Jansen said. “He tried to hide it. You could tell he wanted to be out there so bad to help us win.”This weekend offers the Dodgers a preview of their likely postseason rotation. Kershaw will start opposite another ace, Marlins right-hander Jose Fernandez, followed by left-hander Rich Hill on Saturday and Kenta Maeda on Sunday.That’s a formidable top three — one the Dodgers haven’t been able to use in the same series all season. For more than a month, their three best pitchers lined up only in the imagination. Now they’re lined up to pitch consecutive games for the first-place team in the NL West.Said Roberts, “it’s starting to shape up the way we envisioned.” LOS ANGELES >> The last time Clayton Kershaw appeared in a game for the Dodgers, Brock Stewart had yet to make his major league debut. After recording his first career win Wednesday night, Stewart stood at his locker in the Dodgers’ home clubhouse, the one to Kershaw’s left. “I’ve seen him on TV all the time,” Stewart said of Kershaw. “It’s something special to see it in person. I can’t wait.”One stall down, to Stewart’s left, stood catcher Carlos Ruiz. He was playing for the Philadelphia Phillies when Kershaw pitched last, long before he swapped spots with A.J. Ellis in a stunning August trade.