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Kershaw exits start with back injury

MLB.com @kengurnick

LOS ANGELES -- Clayton Kershaw, who appeared headed to 20 victories, was redirected on Sunday to the disabled list and a Sunday night appointment with back specialist Dr. Robert Watkins after reinjuring his lower back in the Dodgers' dramatic 5-4 win over the Braves in 10 innings.

Kershaw, who missed 2 1/2 months with a herniated disk in his lower back last year, sounded distraught after explaining he was injured while taking his eight warmup throws before the second inning after an eight-pitch perfect first inning.

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LOS ANGELES -- Clayton Kershaw, who appeared headed to 20 victories, was redirected on Sunday to the disabled list and a Sunday night appointment with back specialist Dr. Robert Watkins after reinjuring his lower back in the Dodgers' dramatic 5-4 win over the Braves in 10 innings.

Kershaw, who missed 2 1/2 months with a herniated disk in his lower back last year, sounded distraught after explaining he was injured while taking his eight warmup throws before the second inning after an eight-pitch perfect first inning.

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"A lot of frustration," said Kershaw. "I've done countless hours of back maintenance and rehab just trying to stay healthy and felt really, really good up to this point. There's definitely frustration, for sure."

MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reported Monday that the lefty ace could miss 4-6 weeks. The club did not confirm the report.

Noticeably uncomfortable on the mound even before the second inning started, Kershaw's fastball velocity dropped from 93.3 mph in the first inning to 91.4 mph in the second inning, according to Statcast™.

The Dodgers were already rumored to be considering a trade for a top starting pitcher, namely Yu Darvish. Now their situation becomes increasingly more complicated with Kershaw's health an unknown and the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaching.

Video: MLB Tonight on Kershaw's unfortunate injury

"He wasn't feeling anything before that warmup," said manager Dave Roberts, who confirmed that Kershaw will go on the 10-day disabled list. "From what I understand it's more muscular. That sharpness from the herniation is not what he felt today. The scans could prove different. That's all I got on that."

An awkward 2-1 pitch to Tyler Flowers with two outs brought out Roberts and a trainer. Kershaw took two warmup throws and continued, walked Flowers, then struck out Matt Adams to end the inning and his outing, the third-shortest of his career.

"He couldn't get extended," catcher Austin Barnes noticed. "The aggression wasn't there. I even asked the umpire, 'He's kind of messed up.' I noticed the length of stride seemed short. He didn't want to hurt it more, but he didn't want to come out of the game. Then even after he was hurt he struck out Adams, kind of got after it. He's an animal."

Video: ATL@LAD: Roberts says Kershaw is likely headed to DL

Roberts said he wouldn't speculate on the severity of the injury or the length of time Kershaw would be sidelined.

"With his history, there wasn't any shooting pain down the leg or the sensations he felt last year, so that's encouraging," said Roberts. "Obviously, what he means to our ballclub and his history, so yeah, there's pause. We've got to do scans. Let medical guys do their thing."

As an indication of Kershaw's importance, Kershaw planned to undergo an exam Sunday night rather than wait for Monday business hours. But Roberts said the decision had already been made to place Kershaw on the disabled list, an ominous indicator considering the 2 1/2 months needed to get him back on the big league mound last year.

Roberts and Kershaw insisted that there were no previous indications of any physical issue for Kershaw, who was given eight days off during the All-Star break after throwing a complete game against Kansas City.

"Talking to Rick [Honeycutt, pitching coach], the pregame was good. He is so diligent with his preparation, he was great. He finished the first inning really good. It was just one warmup pitch that got him."

Roberts also announced that right-hander Brandon McCarthy, fighting a blister issue on his right hand, will join Kershaw on the DL and will be replaced on the hill for Tuesday's start by Kenta Maeda.

Video: Zinkie on fantasy impact of Kershaw to DL

Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)
The consensus No. 1 pitcher in fantasy, Kershaw (2.04 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 10.7 K/9 rate) will leave a major void in lineups during his time on the disabled list. Without a waiver-wire option who can approach the left-hander's outstanding production, owners should analyze their league standings before choosing a replacement. Those who need to make up ground in the strikeout department should see if Charlie Morton, Trevor Bauer or Trevor Cahill are available, while owners who are protecting their ratios should opt for a reliever like Archie Bradley, Brad Hand or Pat Neshek.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw