The Los Angeles Dodgers, stricken time and again this year with injuries to key players, have suffered yet another loss.
Kershaw, 30, had pitched well in his first seven starts, tallying a 2.86 ERA and 4.80 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He becomes the third member of the Dodgers rotation on the disabled list, joining Rich Hill (due back Tuesday from a finger infection) and Hyun-jin Ryu (groin). Add in Julio Urias and Tom Koehler (historically a starter, if not anymore), and the Dodgers have five plausible rotation candidates out injured.
Of the bunch, Kershaw’s injury is obviously the hardest to stomach, given his elite-level production. Still, this is a drill the Dodgers have become familiar with, as he’s hit the DL in each of the last three seasons. Hill figures to slot into Kershaw’s spot, with Ross Stripling sliding back to the bullpen and Brock Stewart, the corresponding call-up, heading back to the minors. Another injury, however, and the Dodgers’ depth will again be tested. That’s not good news for a Dodgers team who has disappointed thus far, as they entered Sunday 15-18, some seven games back in the division.
Perhaps the biggest concern is that this is Kershaw’s first DL trip due to an arm-related injury since 2014, when he missed time over a strained shoulder. Kershaw’s velocity has been greatly reduced this season, with his heater checking in at 91.9 mph. Last season, his fastball averaged 93.2 mph. Kershaw’s fastball has always averaged between 93 and 95 mph, per Brooks Baseball, so it’s possible that the tendonitis is impacting his ability to throw as fast as normal.
Even if it’s not, consider this crummy timing for Kershaw, a free agent at season’s end. You can bet that the Dodgers, as well as every other potential suitor, will be keeping a close eye on how his recovery process plays out.
— R.J. Anderson