Having won two of the last three Cy Young awards while leading the National League in ERA three straight seasons, Clayton Kershaw is just about as reliable as pitchers come. He has started 33 games in each of the last three seasons, and has topped the 30-start mark five seasons in a row.
So, of course, the Dodgers announced Wednesday he has been scratched from his start Sunday due to inflammation in his back. Isn't that how it always goes with pitchers? My colleague Chris Cwik summed it up nicely shortly after the announcement was made Wednesday:
The season hasn't started and I'm already sick of pitcher injuries.— Chris Cwik (@Chris_Cwik) March 27, 2014
At this point, there isn't any indication Kershaw's injury will be a lingering one, but that won't make his Fantasy owners feel any better. You were planning on getting a two-start week out of your first-round pick, and now you aren't even sure whether he will be on the mound in Week 1 (March 30-April 6).
Based on what we currently know, we have to assume Kershaw will be fine. He will probably end up being the best pitcher in the game once again this season, racking up dominant starts and headlining the best Fantasy staffs around. Even when you are relying on the best pitcher in the game. however, you can't help but feel the inherent unreliability of pitching.
There is no reason to think Kershaw is headed for the disabled list, but he won't be the only pitcher to fail to make it out of the spring unscathed. Based on our current injury report, nine starting pitchers are expected to be placed on the disabled list to open the season.
The cruel paradox of this game is that those who are responsible for most of the action are also the players who are at the highest risk of injury. Hopefully this is just a speed bump en route to another dominant season for Kershaw, but this isn't how we wanted to see him -- or another of his injured colleagues start his season.