Kershaw’s Back Can Be a Problem

Sunday, August 7, 2022
Copyrighted by Sarah Morris, 2022

Thursday, in San Francisco, Clayton Kershaw exited the game before pitching the fifth inning since he had lower back pain.

The Los Angeles Dodgers immediately put Kershaw on the IL. The results from the MRI revealed nothing new, and Kershaw received an epidural injection to ease the pain. Manager Dave Roberts is hesitant to set a timetable for Kershaw’s return, but Kershaw probably will miss a month, leaving plenty of time for Kershaw to get ready for the postseason.

At 34, Kershaw has been plagued with back problems since 2016. When healthy, Kershaw is as dominant as he was in his youth. This season, he has made 15 starts. In May, Kershaw had an inflamed SI joint, which made him miss 5 weeks.

This season the Dodgers have had injuries to their starting rotation, but they still have the lowest starting rotation ERA in the National League. Many unlikely pitching heroes have helped the Dodgers build up a 14.5-game lead over the San Diego Padres. Now after the Dodgers traded Mitch White to the Toronto Blue Jays, they will have to start Ryan Pepoit a game until Dustin May finishes his rehabilitation after having Tommy John surgery in May 2021.

After having a bone spur removed from his right elbow and straining a flexor tendon at the beginning of June, Walker Buehler has resumed throwing. The Dodgers hope Buehler can return in September and will be ready for the playoffs.

While Andrew Heaney is a part of the Dodger starting rotation now, he has missed most of the season with left shoulder inflammation. He has performed better than expectations when he can pitch. Saturday, Heaney limited the upstart Padres to three runs over 4.2 innings.

Julio Urías, Tyler Anderson, and Tony Gonsolin have carried the Dodger starting rotation. Most Dodger fans perceive Urías is having a poor season, but he has a 2.57 ERA. Yes, he has had three poor starts, but most Major-League starters have a handful of poor starts a season.

When the Dodgers signed a journeyman left-handed Anderson during spring training, most Dodger fans view Anderson as an insurance policy. At the beginning of the season, Anderson was piggybacking with Gonsolin until Heaney went on the IL. When Anderson became a regular starter, he has been brilliant. He has 12 wins and 1 loss with a 2.89 ERA.

Since August 2019, the Dodgers and their fans knew Gonsolin had Major-League talent. He played a crucial role in the 2020 world champion Dodger season. At no time during the 2021 season, Gonsolin with shoulder inflammation was effective since the command of his pitches was not there. During this season, Gonsolin with his splitter has been brilliant, earning his first All-Star selection. He has 13 wins and a loss with a 2.30 ERA. Since he has already hurled a career-high in innings, the Dodgers need to be creative in how to keep Gonsolin fresh for the postseason.

President Andrew Friedman, general manager Brandon Gomes, and Roberts know the baseball old adage that pitching wins championships. Since the Dodger organization has Pepoit, Andre Jackson, and Bobby Miller, they thought White was expendable. Hopefully, Kershaw’s back will heal soon.

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