Three-time Cy Young winner undergoes MRI, hopes to return in early August

Clayton Kershaw hasn’t pitched since June 27, as the longtime Dodgers ace has been on the 15-day injured list due to soreness in his left shoulder.  There wasn’t much concern at the time that Kershaw would miss much beyond the minimum 15 days, as Dodgers manager Dave Roberts
thought Kershaw would return soon after the All-Star break.  However, Kershaw now looks to miss at least another couple of weeks, as he told The Athletic’s Fabian Ardaya and other reporters that he could be out of action until early August.

It’s safe to consider this timeline as fluid, due to the somewhat unusual nature of Kershaw’s shoulder problem.  “I feel completely fine.  The shoulder feels good,” he said, and yet due to the results of an MRI, “I’ve just been told it has to rest.  It’s a weird deal. I’ve never had anything like it, to the point where, like I’m gonna go play catch today and throw it as hard as I can, and they say it needs to rest. It’s just weird, honestly.  I don’t know what to make of it.  But I’m just gonna have to listen to [doctors].”

Shoulder-related issues sent Kershaw to the IL in both 2014 and 2019, though he missed less than two months in total. Of course, the left-hander is no stranger to the injured list in general, as Kershaw has spent at least some time on the IL in every season since the 2015 campaign.  It could be that Kershaw’s shoulder is simply showing some accumulated wear and tear after 16 Major League seasons, so while Kershaw physically feels like he can pitch, the doctors are simply showing some extra caution to prevent any further issues.

It isn’t good news for a Los Angeles rotation that battled through injuries all season, to the point that three rookies (Bobby Miller, Emmet Sheehan, Michael Grove) are currently lined up for turns in the starting five.  Julio Urias and Tony Gonsolin have each missed time on the IL but are now the Dodgers’ only experienced healthy arms, as Kershaw and the struggling Noah Syndergaard are both sidelined. Dustin May has been lost for the season due to flexor tendon surgery, and it remains to be seen if Walker Buehler will be available at all this season after undergoing Tommy John surgery last August.

Kershaw’s absence only deepens the Dodgers’ need for starting pitching, which was already a target area as the trade deadline approaches.  L.A. figures to cast a wide net in looking for arms, ranging from innings-eater types to the top of the market, including such sought-after rental pitchers as White Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito.  The Dodgers have the prospect depth to get into the conversation about any available pitcher, yet right now there’s plenty of uncertainty over how many rotation holes Los Angeles might need to fill if Kershaw’s return indeed doesn’t happen until after the Aug. 1 trade deadline.

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