Clayton Kershaw had been on the DL twice in his career, both for back injuries. He spent 38 days on the DL in 2014 with a muscle issue, and he spent 70 days on the DL in 2016 with a herniated disc. Thus, you would expect his current DL stint – he’ll miss four to six weeks, again with a back injury – to cause worry and angst among Dodgers fans.
So far, though, that hasn’t been the case.
“Actually, it’s been kind of cautious,” L.A. Times columnist Helene Elliott said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “I thought people would be screaming and crying and ripping their hair out, but it’s a little bit cautious. The Dodgers are saying it was a muscle strain; it was not a problem with a disc in the back. If it was just a muscle strain, sure, it’s a concern, but it may not be something serious enough to really have a long-term bad impact on him.”
Kershaw left Sunday’s game against Atlanta after two innings of work. In hindsight, that was the best thing he could have done, especially given his injury history.
“There was no reason to try and push it,” Elliott said. “An athlete like him, he has to be so in tune with his body, and as soon as he knows something is off, he was smart enough to say, ‘We got to shut this down.’ That was the absolute smart thing to do. Perhaps if he had kept on going for another inning, then he really could have hurt by over-compensating. He did the smart thing and maybe that will pay off for him in the end.”
The Dodgers have won more than 90 percent of Kershaw’s starts this season, as the three-time Cy Young winner leads the majors in wins (15) and ERA (2.04). For most teams, losing Kershaw for any length of time would be a crushing loss. The Dodgers (69-31), however, have the best record in baseball, not to mention an 11.5-game lead in the NL West entering play July 25.
“They’ve just got such depth everywhere in the lineup,” Elliott said. “Every one of the starting pitchers from their Opening Day rotation has been on the DL this season – and look where they are. That’s pretty remarkable. That tells you what kind of depth they have.”