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The Los Angeles Dodgers are going to be without the best pitcher in baseball once again. Clayton Kershaw will reportedly be sidelined for 4-to-6 weeks with a lower back injury, according to Ken Rosenthal.
That’s the “initial prognosis.” Kershaw is still expected to meet with a doctor to get an official timetable for his return.
Kershaw was removed from Sunday’s start against the Atlanta Braves after just two innings due to a lower back tightness. He missed 58 games last season with a mild disc herniation in his back. He did not undergo surgery to correct the issue.
The team is calling Kershaw’s injury a lower back strain this time around. Manager Dave Roberts said Kershaw was “day-to-day,” though he’s expected to miss time. The club will plan out a timetable for his return Monday. That timetable could wind up being the reported 4-to-6 weeks that Rosenthal reported.
While no one was entirely certain about the extent of Kershaw’s injury, many seemed resigned to the fact that he would miss some time.
The Dodgers have plenty of depth, but Kershaw is irreplaceable. The 29-year-old was once again on his way to another Cy Young caliber season. Over 141 1/3 innings, Kershaw had a 2.04 ERA. He leads baseball in both categories. He also ranks third with 168 strikeouts.
At 68-31, the Dodgers are in tremendous shape. While there are rumors that the team is in play for Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish, there’s no need for the club to panic and make a desperation trade at this point.
If Kershaw only misses 4-to-6 weeks, he would be back in time for the postseason. The club currently holds a 10.5 game lead in the National League West, so their chances at reaching October still seem pretty strong.
It’s also worth noting that the team survived without Kershaw last season. The Dodgers went 34-24 over the 58 games that Kershaw missed. They got through last season, they can likely do the same in 2017.
Still, the injury hurts. Losing the best pitcher in baseball will impact any club. Even if the Dodgers win games, they’ll have to rely more on a lesser player. Maybe he won’t go as deep into games as Kerhaw, causing the bullpen to carry a heavier load. That adds up over the course of 162 games.
As long as Kershaw is fully recovered, the Dodgers’ ultimate goal won’t be compromised. As he proved this season, Kershaw is still the best in the game when he’s healthy. It’s just starting to get concerning that multiple back issues have forced us to add a caveat to his greatness.
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