Dave Roberts: Clayton Kershaw avoids ligament damage, but won't pitch in playoffs

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters on Tuesday that test results revealed that Clayton Kershaw did not not suffer ligament damage in his pitching arm. But he doesn't expect the three-time Cy Young winner to pitch in the playoffs.

The good news for Kershaw is that the Dodgers don't expect him to need Tommy John surgery after he left a game this weekend complaining of forearm discomfort. Kershaw left Saturday's win over the Milwaukee Brewers after just 42 pitches. He said he knew his outing was done after throwing a slider to Kolten Wong.

After the game, he sounded resigned to Tuesday's news about the playoffs, telling reporters "it's not looking great for October right now." Kershaw was pitching in his fourth start since a forearm injury sidelined him for almost three months. He experienced elbow inflammation prior to the All-Star break and spent 10 weeks resting and rehabbing his pitching arm.

"It just got bad enough to where I couldn't keep going tonight," Kershaw said Saturday.

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw, right, is taken out by Dodgers manager Dave Roberts (30) during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
The Dodgers will look to defend their World Series title without the three-time Cy Young winner. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Roberts likewise didn't hold out hope for a 2021 return from Kershaw.

"Obviously when Clayton has to come out of a game, it doesn't bode well," Roberts told reporters on Saturday. "What that means, we just don't know enough right now. But where we're at in the schedule, with what's left of the season, just not too optimistic right now."

Kershaw, 33, tallied a 3.55 ERA and a 1.019 WHIP with 144 strikeouts and 21 walks while recording a 10-8 record in 121 1/3 innings pitched this season. His numbers were down from his career ERA of 2.49 and 1.004 WHIP. The loss of Kershaw is an obvious blow to a Dodgers team looking for a repeat of last season's World Series title on the heels of a 106-56 regular season.

Even without Kershaw, the Dodgers boast one of baseball's best pitching rotations featuring Walker Buehler, Julio Urias and Max Scherzer, all of whom carry sub-3.00 ERAs into the postseason.

Despite posting baseball's second-best record, the Dodgers face a single-elimination wild-card game against the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday thanks to their second-place finish behind the 107-win San Francisco Giants in the NL West. Scherzer will take the mound against Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright in the winner-take-all matchup.