LOS ANGELES -- Unlike Max Muncy, the Dodgers have ruled out left-hander Clayton Kershaw from appearing for them at any point during the 2021 postseason. But the news wasn’t all bad for the veteran ace, as scans revealed no ligament damage in his ailing left arm -- meaning he won’t require Tommy John surgery.
“That's something that is a sigh of relief for everyone,” manager Dave Roberts said during Tuesday’s off-day workout at Dodger Stadium ahead of the National League Wild Card Game.
Kershaw, who is set to be a free agent at the conclusion of the World Series, had his season -- if not his Dodgers career -- end in unceremonious fashion on Friday against the Brewers. With two outs in the second inning and at just 42 pitches, Kershaw had to exit the game, the forearm issues that sidelined him for more than two months earlier in the season evidently having resurfaced.
“Obviously, that's not the way any of us wanted to see him walk off the mound at Dodger Stadium, knowing what's in the future and knowing very well possibly could have been the last time, [though] hopefully not,” said Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner.
The fact that Kershaw won’t require surgery, of course, will greatly help his cause in free agency. One of the best pitchers of his era, Kershaw will certainly have his share of suitors heading into his age-34 season, though he wasn’t ready to discuss any specifics of his future publicly with the Dodgers still active in the quest to defend their title.
And for the Dodgers, the more pressing Kershaw-related issue is just what to do with his starting spot should they advance to the NL Division Series. They’d expected Kershaw and right-handers Walker Buehler and Max Scherzer to serve as their top three starters. Now, the only clear answer is that left-hander Julio Urías will be firmly part of the rotation rather than filling a swingman role, similar to the one in which he thrived during last year’s postseason.
As for the No. 4 spot, it remains to be seen if that goes to right-hander Tony Gonsolin, a series of relievers, or some combination thereof.
Whatever the answer ends up being, Kershaw will be on hand to offer his support.
“He's with us in spirit,” Turner said of Kershaw. “He's going to be here with us for the whole ride and doing whatever he can to help us out and cheer us on and try to help us accomplish winning another championship.”