The Dodgers will surely be glad to return home after a road trip that saw some pretty crazy stuff, both good and bad. Mostly bad. After all the injuries, it leaves one wondering if the combined no-hitter will be the highlight of the season.
Clayton Kershaw is the latest to be hit with the injury bug. (That’s gotta be it, right? Someone left a window open in the Dodgers clubhouse and that little season ruiner worked it’s way in). Kershaw felt something Saturday in his warmups and was sent back ahead of the team to L.A. to meet with Dr. ElAttrache. Sunday night it was confirmed that he has bicep tendinitis, setting the stage for his rehab to begin Monday.
Dodgers fans let out a little sigh of relief that maybe the worst case scenario passed them by. But the diagnosis does not mean Kershaw will be back anytime soon. No timetable has been set, but six weeks seems like a good start. That would put his return around the end of June, should all go well.
The Dodgers have absorbed Kershaw being on the DL each of the last three years and have done alright while he has been recovering. But this is a different year—half the team is currently on the DL with him. On the position player side, Corey Seager is out for the year and Logan Forsythe, Yasiel Puig and Justin Turner are all still out. As for the pitchers, Hyun-Jin Ryu tore the groin muscle off of his bone in Arizona, and won’t be back for quite awhile. Rich Hill is slated to make his return from the DL Tuesday, also against Arizona. Should Hill be fine and not suffer any further set backs, that’s still 2/5ths of the starting rotation out for the next six weeks or so.
This presses top prospect Walker Buehler into service sooner than the Dodgers were hoping. While he has proven himself more than capable of competing at the major league level, giving up no runs in 15 of his 16 innings pitched, injuries were not the reason the front office wanted him to be brought up. The club was hoping to have him around for the end of the season into the playoffs. Now they’ll have to figure out if and when to limit his innings seemingly on the fly. Ross Stripling and/or Brock Stewart seem slated to take the remaining starter’s spot.
I’m really interested to see what the front office does with this. There definitely is time to see how this team reacts and competes with so many of its stars on the DL. The return of both Logan Forsythe and Yasiel Puig seem to be on the horizon, and Justin Turner could be close behind them. If the Dodgers can get things going, get a couple win streaks here and there, the bullpen figures itself out, and they get back into Wild Card contention, if not division contention, the front office will have a big decision on its hands. Just how much do you put into a post season run and how much do you stay the course?
But that all is for another time, to be worried about at a later date. The Dodgers have incredible depth, and now’s the time for them to shine. Buehler, along with Alex Verdugo have been making the most of their time in the bigs, and perhaps will lead the Dodgers back into the playoffs, in a year where the playoffs now cannot be taken for granted. Slow and steady and youth will win the race.