Dodgers may employ 'opener' strategy as Clayton Kershaw returns to the DL

The Los Angeles Dodgers rotation generated some news on Friday. Foremost, the Dodgers will place ace Clayton Kershaw on the disabled list again due to back tightness. He's expected to miss a month or more:

Kershaw was activated on Thursday, threw five innings, and then exited and underwent an MRI. He's started eight times this season and -- true to form -- has pitched well, posting a 2.76 ERA and 4.82 strikeout-to-walk ratio. To state the obvious: the Dodgers have to hope he's ready to roll once the 10-day window expires -- in part because of who he is, and in part because he gives them five starting pitchers on the disabled, four of whom have joined in the past four weeks.

In Kershaw's place, the Dodgers will turn to well-traveled righty Brock Stewart. So far this season, Stewart has been optioned six times. For reference, he's made five big-league appearances this year, over which he's managed a 4.61 ERA And 1.83 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

It's not yet clear if Stewart will take Kershaw's rotation spot. The Dodgers have already brought up Dennis Santana from the minors, a 22-year-old right-hander with decent prospect standing. The Dodgers could in theory turn to either if they're hoping to maintain a traditional rotation. Alternatively, the Dodgers could get funky with it and do something different, like starting left-handed reliever Scott Alexander, which is what they'll do on Friday night:

Yes, it's at least possible the Dodgers are adapting the Tampa Bay Rays' "opener" strategy for the night. Seemingly the goal here is to take advantage of the Rockies having two lefties in the top four of their lineup.

It should be noted that Alexander has struggled with his command this season, and that relying upon him to open the game could leave the Dodgers in an early hole. It could just be a traditional bullpen game, too:

Still, with Kershaw out for a few weeks at minimum and the Dodgers having exhausted their starter options on the 40-man roster, it's possible this is how manager Dave Roberts will approach every fifth game for the foreseeable future. 

CBS Sports Staff

R.J. Anderson joined CBS Sports in 2016. He previously wrote for Baseball Prospectus, where he contributed to five of the New York Times bestselling annuals. His work has also appeared in Newsweek and... Full Bio

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