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Do something? Too soon for Dodgers to make moves in response to Kershaw injury

No sooner had the Dodgers disclosed Sunday that Clayton Kershaw was hurt than their followers divided into two loud schools of thought.

School 1: DO SOMETHING! The season can be won. Trade the prospects. Get some veterans.

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School 2: DO SOMETHING! The season is lost. Trade the veterans. Get some prospects.

Wrong. And wrong.

This is what the Dodgers should do: absolutely nothing.

It would be silly to demand how the Dodgers should react to Kershaw's injury without assessing his rehabilitation from what they say is tendinitis. On Sunday, the Dodgers offered no timetable for his return.

And, more fundamentally, it would be ludicrous to demand how the Dodgers should fix the team when they have absolutely no idea what kind of team they have.

Their center fielder is now their shortstop. Their third catcher has yet to play an inning behind the plate, but he leads the team in starts at third base. Of the five pitchers in the original starting rotation, three are on the disabled list.

A gentleman named Maxwell Steven Muncy has played more games than Logan Forsythe, whom the team said would return after the minimum 10 days on the disabled list. That was 21 days ago.

And none of this touches the most significant flaw exposed during the first month of the season.

Justin Turner has not played all season, leadoff batter Chris Taylor has an on-base percentage below .300, and the injured Yasiel Puig has no home runs and a batting average below .200, but the Dodgers still have scored the most runs of any team in the National League West.

This could change with Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu joining the disabled list in the last week, but the Dodgers' starting pitchers have the lowest earned-run average of any team in the NL West.

No, the glaring weakness is the bullpen.

The first-place Diamondbacks have given up half as many runs in relief as the Dodgers have — 32 fewer runs, in 6 2/3 fewer innings. The Dodgers replaced Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson with Tom Koehler and Scott Alexander, moves that were cost-effective but not baseball-effective.

Then again, middle relief was a mess this time last year too, and Morrow had not been called up from the minor leagues. Can the Dodgers work some magic with anonymous arms again? Manny Machado can't help there.

When Turner returns from his broken wrist, will his power return right away, or next year? Can Taylor handle shortstop for the long term? Does Matt Kemp's revival look as if it will last a month, or a year?

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How do the Dodgers balance rookie pitcher Walker Buehler's development with the immediate and desperate needs of the major league team? Is Julio Urias really going to pitch this season?

And, of course, what is the prognosis for Kershaw?

This is his third consecutive season on the disabled list, not exactly the history a 30-year-old pitcher with a declining fastball wants to take into free agency. Maybe Kershaw plays out the last two years of his Dodgers contract, because every injury makes the concept of beating $65 million on the free-agent market a bit less likely.

That is an issue for another day. The issue for now: Corey Seager is out for the season, Ryu is out at least through the All-Star break, and the Dodgers are bracing for the indefinite absence of Kershaw.

By the end of the month, with Turner and Puig and Forsythe and Rich Hill all expected to be back, the Dodgers should have a better idea of the capabilities of this team. Can the season be saved, or do they dangle Puig, Forsythe and catcher Yasmani Grandal for some midlevel prospects?

For some time, the worst-case Dodgers scenario has been perceived to be trying to win if Kershaw were injured. But he missed more than a month because of injury in each of the last two seasons, and the Dodgers won the NL West.

The Dodgers entered play Sunday with a 15-18 record. They were 2-5 when Kershaw started, 13-13 when he did not. Breathe deep, exhale and check back in a month.

Twitter: @BillShaikin

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