With Kershaw hitting IL, Dodgers pitching delivers

July 4th, 2023

LOS ANGELES -- After a few days of pushing back the decision, the Dodgers placed left-hander on the 15-day injured list with left shoulder soreness before Monday’s game against the Pirates, retroactive to Friday.

Replacing Kershaw, especially given his production this season, will be impossible for the Dodgers over the final six games until the All-Star break. But the Dodgers’ pitching staff passed its first test in a 5-2 win at Dodger Stadium.

“When Clayton takes the mound, you expect to win a ballgame,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who secured his 700th career win as a manager. “So tonight, we won a ballgame, and I think we allowed him to get over what he’s been dealing with and the second half starts anew.”

Kershaw was originally scheduled to start on Monday, but that instantly became doubtful once he was diagnosed with left shoulder inflammation following his last outing against the Rockies on Tuesday. Kershaw received a cortisone shot on Wednesday, preventing him from throwing a bullpen session in between his starts. 

Despite that, Kershaw tried to make it back on Monday and was hopeful to convince the Dodgers over the weekend that he could pitch. But given the Dodgers’ rotation being in flux and the All-Star break looming, both sides agreed to place him on the IL for the first time this season.

“Any time you have to take time off, it’s frustrating. Disappointing,” Kershaw said. “Just the way the season was going, I had hoped that I could make it through a full season. Any time it doesn’t work out, that’s definitely frustrating for me. But where we’re at with the season and with the break, it’s probably overall a good thing.”

The Dodgers and Kershaw remain confident that he will be able to return after the minimum amount of time, which would be on July 15 against the Mets. They wouldn’t, however, say that Kershaw would definitively start that night because they don’t want to rush the him with any particular timeline.

“Every day, it’s gotten better,” said Roberts. “So I feel really confident about it. Really good.”

Kershaw said he was disappointed to not be able to pitch in the upcoming All-Star Game in Seattle. The veteran earned his 10th All-Star selection on Sunday, tying a franchise record. Kershaw said his son, Charley, was looking forward to watching him pitch for a second consecutive year.

The Dodgers’ ace does expect to make the trip to Seattle and take part in the festivities despite not pitching.

With Kershaw going on the injured list, Michael Grove was recalled to the active roster to start on Monday. Grove didn’t have his best command, but he was able to navigate through significant traffic on the bases, allowing just one run over four innings.

“I was fighting it a little bit,” Grove said. “I was just trying to make a pitch when I needed to.”

After Grove’s night ended, the Dodgers turned to their bullpen. Getting five strong innings from the ‘pen has been an issue at times this season, but Roberts and the Dodgers navigated through the Pirates’ lineup with five relievers in , , , and .

With Kershaw going on the IL, the Dodgers will rely on the rest of the starting rotation to pick up the slack over the next week. All five of the starting pitchers on the Opening Day roster have now landed on the IL at different points this season.

Adding a starting pitcher at the Trade Deadline has suddenly become a priority for the Dodgers. But until then, the pitching staff will be asked to step up in a big way. They did that on Monday.

“It was a very good [win],” Roberts said. “The way we showed up today, facing an All-Star pitcher [in Mitch Keller] and he had his way with us in Pittsburgh, so for him to play well, it was a good sign. Now, we have to build that momentum. That’s something we haven’t done well this year, but we have an opportunity with five more games going into the break.”