NL West

What Does Clayton Kershaw’s DL Stint Mean for the Dodgers?

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He’s first in the league in ERA, WAR, innings pitched and shutouts. He’s also second in strikeouts and third in wins.

It’s no secret Clayton Kershaw has been phenomenal for the Los Angeles Dodgers this season. He was in the running for one of the best years in baseball history.

He still might get there, but for now Kershaw is on the 15-day disabled list for a back injury.

The Dodgers have leaned on Kershaw hard, and the workload might be catching up to him.

“That’s probably why he hurt his back,” said his catcher A.J. Ellis. “He’s been carrying us for so long.”

Perhaps the time off will enable Kershaw to save a little gas and help him out down the stretch. But what does this mean for the Dodgers?

Right now, they’re one-and-a-half games up on the Marlins for the N.L. wild card lead, and the Mets and Cardinals are a half game behind Miami. L.A. has a little breathing room, but not much.

The Dodgers just have to make it to the all-star break, which starts July 11, without ceding too much ground. As long as he comes back on time, Kershaw will only miss two starts.

So the Dodgers don’t need anything major; a short-term solution will do. Injured starting pitchers Brandon McCarthy and Hyun-Jin Ryu may be able to return before the break; even one start for each of them would be a huge relief for Manager Dave Roberts.

Until they come back, however, newcomer Bud Norris is going to get an opportunity. The Dodgers acquired Norris today from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for minor leagues. He is scheduled to start tomorrow against the Colorado Rockies.

“He’s really thrown well lately,” said Roberts of Norris. “I know he’s excited to be in Los Angeles.

The Dodgers don’t need him to be Kershaw-esque, and expecting him to would be incredibly unrealistic. All they need is someone to churn through some innings—six, maybe seven–without getting smacked around. If Norris can work deep into the two or so starts he’ll make before the break and give the bullpen some rest, the Dodgers will be ecstatic.

After the all-star break, as long as L.A. doesn’t lose too much ground in the standings with Kershaw out, they could be in business. Kershaw, McCarthy and Ryu should all be back and Andre Ethier may not be far behind. Ether fractured his leg in mid-March and was supposed to be out 16 weeks, or right around the mid-summer classic.

For now though, they need Norris to make every pitch count.

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