Posted on June 2, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
Clayton Kershaw’s time back on the active roster turned out to be brief. The Los Angeles Dodgers placed Kershaw on the 10-day DL Friday night, one day after the lefty was activated from the DL to start against the Phillies. This time, it was a lower back strain that has sent Kershaw back to the injured list. After already missing nearly a month of action, the Dodgers expect Kershaw to be on the shelf for at least another month.
This will be the third year in a row Kershaw misses time due to back problems. He missed over two months of action during the second half of 2016 with a herniated disc. Last season, a lower back strain cost the lefty more than a month of the season. Both years, Kershaw returned late in the season and pitched well down the stretch. The Dodgers are optimistic that scenario will repeat itself this year as well.
“It’s very comparable to last year, as far as the baseline, so I don’t think it’s too serious,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Friday. “It’s disappointing, but to know he will be back to help us this year is encouraging. The great ones can do things that are essentially superhuman and can grind and still find ways to be great.”
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An MRI showed inflammation in Kershaw’s lower back. Such a find is a little disconcerting after the lefty just sat out a month with an arm injury. At this time, it’s tough to gauge how long it will take for Kershaw to recovery and return to the mound.
“Initially, resting is No. 1,” Roberts said of Kershaw’s recovery plan. “Clayton is going to want to get back out there as soon as possible, which we appreciate and understand. But making sure that he’s well and good and ready to go — rest is a big part of it. It’s at the forefront of our mind.”
Compounding Kershaw’s return to the DL is the fact that the Dodgers are already missing several key members of their rotation. Rich Hill is dealing with blisters yet again. He may not return until later this month. Hyun-Jin Ryu has already missed a month and won’t be back until after the all-star break. Finally, Kenta Maeda went on the DL Thursday and figures to miss at one or two starts. The Dodgers are also without shortstop Corey Seager for the rest of the season.
“It absolutely won’t destroy us,” said Roberts. “It’s not ideal. Missing 80% of your starting rotation at some point, the shortstop, and it goes on and on. We have guys to plug in and it gives guys runways.”
On the plus side, Alex Wood has been consistent, while Ross Stripling and rookie Walker Buehler have performed at a high level. However, the Dodgers still have to piece together the final two spots in their starting rotation until one of their injured starters is ready to return.
Just as the Dodgers started to crawl back into contention in the NL West, they are hit with the news about Kershaw. Adding their ace back to the rotation would have been a great way for Los Angeles to keep up the momentum they built at the end of May. But with Kershaw set to miss at least another month, the Dodgers have another obstacle in what has already been a challenging season.