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Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw may require back surgery

The Dodger ace’s indefinite shutdown may get a little more definite.

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The poor, sweet Dodgers just want to win their division, but the baseball gods are apparently disgusted by the notion.

“Hopeful,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts called his team, despite losing a multitude of hitters and hurlers to injury this season. Word of Kershaw’s back issues, however, was likely the most unwelcome news Roberts has received on the year.

The 28-year-old Kershaw has been on the disabled list with a mild disk herniation, having not pitched since June 26 in Pittsburgh. The Dodgers had experimented with Kershaw in a simulated game, only to have his back issues spike.

It doesn’t need to be said how critical Kershaw is to this staff. The 121 innings he has given L.A. this year have resulted in an MLB-best ERA of 1.79 and third lowest opponent BA of .185. The two guys ahead of him in that category, Marco Estrada and Drew Pomeranz, have 39 and 41 walks this season, respectively. Kershaw has nine. For the season.

Timing couldn’t be worse for the Dodgers, who are battling the Giants in the NL West (and sit 4.5 GB them) and trying to hold onto a slim lead in the Wild Card race above the Marlins, Mets, and Cardinals. Injuries have chewed holes in the rotation already: Alex Wood’s season is over, Hyun-jin Ryu is headed to the DL, Brett Anderson is supposed to be back in mid-August—so the Dodgers might be on the lookout for starting pitching as the trade deadline looms.