Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw is heading to the 15-day disabled list after receiving treatment for lower back tightness, an ailment that has been lingering over the last few weeks.
With Kershaw heading to the disabled list, he will be the Dodgers’ sixth starting pitcher on the disabled list; other starters on the disabled list include Brandon McCarthy, Frankie Montas, Brett Anderson, Alex Wood, and Hyun-jin Ryu.
Kershaw pitched against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday, June 26 and had one of his worst starts of the season, surrendering four earned runs over six innings. After the outing, Kershaw was examined for minor discomfort in his back.
Kershaw left the Dodgers, who are Milwaukee, on Tuesday to return to Los Angeles for further examination on his back on Wednesday morning. Following the examination, Kershaw received an epidural injection to aide in easing the discomfort. Epidural injections are a common treatment to treat back pain, as well as pain in the neck and legs.
Though no back injury is exactly the same, it’s worth noting that outfielder Scott Van Slyke missed about two months while dealing with a lower back injury. Van Slyke, like Kershaw, received an epidural injection to alleviate discomfort.
The Dodgers’ pitching staff is built around the left-handed Kershaw, and the team’s win-loss record is a clear example of that. The Dodgers are 14-2 in Kershaw’s sixteen starts this season. In the 63 games that Kershaw has not started in 2016, the Dodgers are 28-35, a .444 winning percentage.
At 28 years old, Kershaw was in the midst of a season that seemed poised to end in his fourth National League Cy Young Award. In 121 innings, Kershaw whiffed 145 batters and walked nine for a staggering strikeout-to-walk ratio of 16.11, the highest mark among starting pitchers in the majors.
Kershaw’s spot in the rotation is due to come up on Friday, when the Dodgers will be back in Los Angeles to face the Colorado Rockies. Brock Stewart, who made his major-league debut against the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday, could see some more time in the Dodgers’ rotation in wake of Kershaw’s vacancy. Stewart spun five frames on Wednesday, allowing five runs on eight hits while striking out seven.
Carlos Frias is an option to be called up to start for the Dodgers on Friday. Frias is currently with the Triple-A Oklahoma City Dodgers. Frias has appeared in seven games for Oklahoma City this season and is 2-3 with a 4.41 earned run average in 34.2 innings. Another option is Mike Bolsinger. Bolsinger is at Triple-A, too, and has a 1.42 ERA in just under thirteen innings of work.
Though a timetable has not yet been established, it seems that, given that his pain was severe enough to require an epidural injection, Kershaw will exceed the fifteen days on the shelf.