We all hoped it wouldn’t happen, but it did, and now the Dodgers are dealing with it. Clayton Kershaw is back on the disabled list with, you guessed it, a back injury. This has become a pattern, as Kershaw has hit the DL each of the past two summers with virtually the same injury. However, this season the Dodgers are more prepared.
It’s clear Kershaw never wanted his back to act up again. I mean, who would? But even amongst the Dodgers’ most turbulent season of the past few years, they are more prepared for his absence than ever before. It’s odd, thinking that the Dodgers are still in good shape headed into the summer even without Corey Seager, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Brandon Morrow, and Kershaw, but they are.
Kershaw will be back. He’ll most likely pitch this summer. The immediate timetable for his return is reportedly a month, give or take; probably give, if we’re being realistic.
So, with 80% of the Dodgers’ Opening Day rotation on the DL, guys like Walker Buehler and Ross Stripling have had to step up, and boy have they done so. Not only have Buehler and Stripling pitched like the elite players the Dodgers hope they would become, they’ve kept the rotation afloat in these turbulent times. Their success has inspired the team to call up guys like Dennis Santana, who is slated to start Thursday, and Caleb Ferguson who will start Wednesday.
Though Kershaw hitting the DL isn’t the best news in the world, there is hope. In 2016, the Dodgers went 37-24 without their ace, enough to still get them another division title. Last season, they played even better. The Dodgers went 24-10. Kershaw was out for over a month and they managed to play far beyond .500 baseball and things turned out just fine.
Rich Hill is injured, so is Kenta Maeda, and Alex Wood is not pitching like he did during his All-Star 2017 season. That breeds a little doom and gloom, but what doesn’t breed the aforementioned gloom is the success of Stripling, the emergence of Max Muncy and the resurgence of Matt Kemp.
Kershaw probably won’t save the Dodgers this season, but of the multitude of things last season proved, one of the biggest is that the Dodgers don’t need Kershaw’s heroics to find success. In fact, I’ll go far enough to say that Stripling has had a better season than Kershaw.
Congrats to the one they call Chicken Strip because he just became the Dodgers’ (temporary) ace.
To make matters better, the offense is finally waking up, and so is the bullpen. Who knows, should Ferguson and Santana find success alongside Stripling and Buehler, the Dodgers could be clicking on all cylinders headed into summer.
Kershaw-created heroics or not, the Dodgers are a great team. They’ve proved that over the past two weeks.
So the question isn’t if the Dodgers are going survive Kershaw’s absence, it’s how are they going to better themselves in spite of it?
To quote former Dodgers GM and current Sports Net LA postgame show co-host Ned Colletti “just keep sittin’ there,” because there is plenty of baseball on the horizon.