When the Los Angeles Dodgers announced last Thursday that Clayton Kershaw had a mild herniated disk in his back and put him on the disabled list, many Dodgers fans thought the team was in trouble.After all, when Kershaw started a game this season, the Dodgers had a 14-2 record, but
When the Los Angeles Dodgers announced last Thursday that Clayton Kershaw had a mild herniated disk in his back and put him on the disabled list, many Dodgers fans thought the team was in trouble.
After all, when Kershaw started a game this season, the Dodgers had a 14-2 record, but when he didn't start, they had a record of 29-35. Manager Dave Roberts described Kershaw as the team's "MVP". Obviously when any team loses a player the caliber of Kershaw, it's a crushing blow to the team's playoff aspirations.
However, since Kershaw has been on the disabled list, the Dodgers haven't lost. Undoubtedly, the Dodgers will miss Kershaw, who is having one of the best seasons for any pitcher in baseball history, but the Dodgers have shown resiliency this season.
This season the Dodgers have placed 19 players on the disabled list, the most in the Majors, yet they are only 5 games back of the division-leading San Francisco Giants, and they are leading the NL Wild Card race. This is a tribute to the incredible depth within the Dodgers' organization, the resourcefulness of the Dodgers' front office, and the motivational skills of Roberts to keep the team believing in their ability to play through adversity.
The starting rotation has been decimated by injuries. The Dodgers couldn't promote another starter from the Minor Leagues after Kershaw went on the disabled list since they'd already depleted all the available starters. Therefore, the Dodgers sent two Minor League pitchers to the Atlanta Braves for starter Bud Norris and a Minor League outfielder.
After a rough beginning to this season prompting Atlanta to remove Norris temporarily from the starting rotation, the veteran right-hander has performed very well. On Friday night against the Colorado Rockies, Norris pitched six scoreless innings.
On Sunday, Brandon McCarthy made a triumphant return from Tommy John surgery. In his five scoreless innings against the Rockies, McCarthy exhibited fantastic control and 93-mph velocity. If he can remain healthy, he will provide a much needed boost to the starting rotation.
Later this week, the Dodgers are expected to activate Hyun-Jin Ryu. He did not pitch in the Major Leagues during 2015 and underwent shoulder surgery. Minor setbacks in his recovery have delayed his return.
The Dodgers want to demote Julio Urias to the Minor Leagues after the All-Star break. Although he has improved in every Major League outing, the Dodgers want to limit the number of innings he pitches this year. That is easier to accomplish in the Minors.
After several years when the bullpen had been the Dodgers' weakness, this season the Dodgers have the best bullpen in the National League. Although many experts worry about the number of innings the bullpen has worked, it has only appeared in the 10th-most innings in the league.
Kershaw's back injury will not require surgery. The Dodgers want to see how he responds to the epidural he received last week before they set a timetable for his return. He is eligible to come off the disabled list Friday after the All-Star break when the Dodgers face the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Sarah D. Morris can be reached at [email protected].