If I Should Fall Behind

“And should I fall behind
Wait for me
Darlin’ I’ll wait for you
Should I fall behind
Wait for me”

~Bruce Springsteen

105

The other day, when the news came down about Clayton Kershaw having back spasms and maybe facing a DL stint, I facetiously tweeted “RIP Dodgers season.” Now that’s not fair, or entirely true, that one player can make or break a season, being on (what is hopefully) a short stay on the disabled list. But if there’s any player that that sentiment would apply to, it would be Kershaw.

We all know the stats. Kershaw leads the MLB with a 1.79 ERA, a 0.73 WHIP, and is second in the majors with 143 strikeouts. His strike out to walk ratio is borderline insane – 143-to-9. He has 12 games where he’s gone seven-plus innings and given up one walk or less. He had 16 starts between games where he gave up two or more walks. The Dodgers are a gazillion more times likely to win when he pitches than when he doesn’t. (Ok, I made that last part up. But it’s close).

I said in my last post that I was starting to crack. The crack might be a little wider now. How could it not be, when the most important player on the Dodgers’ roster, its biggest cheerleader, the best pitcher on the planet, cannot pitch for an undetermined amount of time. Especially when the Dodgers have been so cruely bit by the injury bug time and time again this season. I think listing who has not been injured would be shorter, but I would never do that for fear of jinxing someone. Just how does one not freak at a time like this?

Well, in proper Andy fashion, let’s try to look at this objectively and positively:

1. Kershaw went on the DL before, and as Eric Stephen points out, that year he won an MVP.

2. The Dodgers won the division and made the playoffs that same year that Kershaw went on the DL. The division may seem unlikely at this moment, but the playoffs definitely do not.

3. Currently, the Dodgers are only 5.5 games back in the division. (And maybe by time you read this, the Oakland Athletics will have beaten the San Francisco Giants again, and it will be five games.) Not insurmountable by any means.

4. Only one Dodger seems like they’ll make the All-Star team. Seems odd to be happy about that I suppose, but it gives the beaten up tired team more time to rest and get ready for the second half.

5. They are right in the thick of it with the wild card race. They currently are 1.5 games up for the wild card lead, and who would you want on the mound other than Kershaw to win you one game? And while I understand that having to win a wild card game and burn your best pitcher is not optimal, (not to mention the stress it would put on my nerves), making the playoffs is the goal. Once you’re in, you can win.

6. The Dodgers have an amazing amount of veteran leadership. Yes, this is cliché. But it’s cliché for a reason. Adrian Gonzalez, Chase Utley, A.J. Ellis. These are the types of guys you want when the situation seems a little dire. Steady, calm influences.

7. The Giants can’t stay this hot forever. (Maybe they can. I’m going to go with they can’t.)

8. This team is too good to roll over and die.

9. Reinforcements are coming. Brandon McCarthy threw five rehab innings on Tuesday. The Dodgers today traded for Braves‘ pitcher Bud Norris. And the new kids aren’t so bad. Brock Stewart had one bad inning, but otherwise looked pretty decent. Julio Urias has been solid as of late, finally picking up his first win.

10. It’s Vin Scully’s last year. And don’t underestimate the magic of Vin. It’s must better than Giants Devil Magic.

Realistically, the Dodgers just need to tread water until Kershaw’s back is better and he can once again lead the team. And some might say, that’s all they’ve been doing so far this season. And if that’s all they’ve been doing, once the team is healthy, watch out.

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