After receiving a pair of elite pitching performances, the Los Angeles Dodgers will move into a three-game interleague series against the visiting Cleveland Guardians by sending one of the top pitchers in franchise history to the mound.

Clayton Kershaw (4-1, 2.12 ERA) will start Friday’s series opener against the Guardians, who are visiting Dodger Stadium for the first time since 2014.

The Dodgers just completed a brief two-game series sweep of the Los Angeles Angels. Left-hander Tyler Anderson took a no-hitter into the ninth inning Wednesday, a day after right-hander Tony Gonsolin gave up one hit over 6 1/3 innings.

Anderson’s outing brought back reminders of Kershaw’s 2022 debut against another American League Central opponent, the Minnesota Twins, on April 13. The legendary left-hander crafted seven perfect innings on 80 pitches before he was removed from the game as a precaution.

Kershaw was pitching in a regular-season game for the first time since bowing out late in 2021 with a forearm strain. A separate bout with SI joint inflammation has already cost the 34-year-old a month this season, but he returned Saturday at San Francisco and gave up two runs on three hits over four innings and 71 pitches.

After the Dodgers’ 3-2 defeat to the Giants, Kershaw was asked if the outing was a positive step in his return.

“I mean other than losing, yeah, which is no fun no matter what building block you want,” Kershaw said. “But overall, I feel good about it for the most part and will be ready to go for the next one.”

In 15 seasons, Kershaw has faced the Cleveland franchise just twice. He gave up four runs over five innings of a no-decision in 2008 and two runs over seven innings of a 2017 win.

The Guardians will enter after a 4-2 road victory against the Colorado Rockies on Thursday that completed a three-game sweep. The series opened a nine-game, three-city trip for Cleveland.

While Amed Rosario had a pair of RBIs in Thursday’s victory, it was six strong innings from right-hander Triston McKenzie that helped clinch the sweep. Cleveland heads to Los Angeles on a four-game winning streak while also taking seven of its past eight games.

Cleveland right-hander Zach Plesac (2-4, 4.70) will take the mound coming off a no-decision Saturday against the Oakland Athletics, when he gave up four runs (three earned) over six innings in a 10-5 defeat. It is the Guardians’ only loss since June 7.

Plesac’s eight hits allowed were the second most this season, and his two strikeouts tied a season low.

The outing was highlighted by Plesac’s defense when he fielded a ball with his bare hand near the third-base line and made an off-balance jump throw to retire Cristian Pache at first base, saving a run.

“I’ve always been a playmaker my whole life,” Plesac said. “I played football, receiver. I’ve always been able to do that. It’s something I enjoy, right there, full count, first and third, two outs, you gotta get him out or he scores. … I made a read there and, yeah, it’s fun.”

Plesac will make his first career start against the Dodgers and his first road outing against a National League West opponent in four seasons.

–Field Level Media