Sunday night, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw had an uncharacteristically poor start, surrendering four runs in six innings against the Pirates. He allowed nine hits and two walks (one intentional) while striking out four.
On Monday, manager Dave Roberts told reporters Kershaw has been receiving treatment for lower-back discomfort, though he dismissed it as an excuse for his poor outing Sunday. From ESPN's Doug Padilla:
Roberts called Kershaw's lower-back discomfort an "off-and-on issue" but sounded far from concerned about it, saying Kershaw "absolutely" would make his next scheduled start, expected to be at home Friday against the Colorado Rockies.
Kershaw, who has not mentioned the back issue at all, went through his usual "day after a start" routine Monday morning, according to Padilla. Kershaw missed the first month of the 2014 season with back inflammation. That's the only DL stint of his career.
So far this season the Dodgers are 14-2 when Kershaw starts and 27-34 when anyone else starts. It goes without saying losing the best pitcher in the world for any length of time, even one or two starts, would be a huge blow to the Dodgers, who came into Monday eight games back in the NL West.
The Dodgers are currently without Hyun-Jin Ryu (shoulder surgery), Brandon McCarthy (Tommy John surgery), Frankie Montas (ribs), Brett Anderson (back surgery), and Alex Wood (triceps), so their rotation depth is depleted. They're trying to come up with a starter for Wednesday's game.
Kershaw, 28, is 11-2 with a 1.79 ERA (217 ERA+) in 16 starts and 121 innings this season. He leads baseball in innings, WHIP (.073), strikeouts (145), K/BB ratio (16.1), and FIP (1.65 FIP). Kershaw is the clear favorite for the NL Cy Young at this point, if not NL MVP.