Just one day after returning from a nearly-month-long stint on the disabled list due to left bicep tendinitis, Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw is headed back to the 10-day DL — this time with a lower-back strain, per a club announcement Friday evening:
Today, the Dodgers placed Clayton Kershaw on the 10-day DL with a lower back strain and recalled Brock Stewart from Triple-A Oklahoma City.— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) June 1, 2018
Kershaw exited his start Thursday night after five innings with a sore back — a concerning development, considering that he missed significant time with back injuries for each of the past two years. Manager Dave Roberts told reporters, including the Los Angeles Times’ Andy McCullough, that Kershaw will miss at least a month after his latest injury.
Kershaw, 30, has been very good this season, though he hasn’t really been his usual dominant self. He’s posted a 2.76 ERA and 1.12 WHIP over eight starts — great numbers, but not his usual superhuman ones — and he’s averaged just over six innings per start. The Dodgers have lost six of the eight games he’s started.
Obviously, any time a team loses a likely future Hall of Famer, it’s a huge loss. But Kershaw’s loss is particularly devastating for the Dodgers, who now have four-fifths of their Opening Day rotation on the DL, with Kershaw joining Hyun-Jin Ryu, Rich Hill, and Kenta Maeda. It appears as if they’ll follow the Rays’ lead in experimenting with “bullpening,” as reliever Scott Alexander will start Friday, though it’s worth noting that Alexander is no stranger to making multi-inning appearances and was a starter at one point in the minors. Righty Brock Stewart, who was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City for the fifth time this season on Friday, presumably will re-enter the rotation when Kershaw’s next turn comes up.
Interestingly, Kershaw is the second straight pitcher in the majors this week to make a much-anticipated return from the disabled list, only to suffer a new injury and head right back to the DL. Cardinals right-hander Alex Reyes made his first start since 2016 on Wendesday after completing his recovery from Tommy John surgery, but he exited after four innings with a lat strain and is now out indefinitely.