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Dodgers Dugout: What is biceps tendinitis and what does it mean for Clayton Kershaw?

Dodgers Dugout: What is biceps tendinitis and what does it mean for Clayton Kershaw?
Clayton Kershaw (Mark J. Terrill / AP)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell. I do believe Thanos snapped his fingers and wiped out half of the Dodgers' rotation. That's not a very nice thing to do, Thanos.

The bad news continues

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So, on Sunday the Dodgers learned that their ace, Clayton Kershaw, cut short a road trip and flew back to L.A. to be examined by doctors, who diagnosed him with biceps tendinitis. He has already started a recovery program, but the timetable for his return is unknown.

This leads to some questions.

What is biceps tendinitis? According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons: "It is an inflammation or irritation of the tendon that connects the biceps muscle to the bones of the shoulder. … Pain in the front of the shoulder and weakness are common symptoms of biceps tendinitis. They can often be relieved with rest and medication. In severe cases, surgery may be needed to repair the tendon."

Have other pitchers had this? Yes, many. Tyler Skaggs of the Angels was diagnosed with it in May 2016. He was recovering from Tommy John surgery at the time, and eventually returned to the Angels rotation in July of that season. Since then, he has gone 8-12 with a 4.12 ERA.

Cole Hamels, then with the Phillies, had biceps tendinitis in spring training of 2014, and was unable to make his opening day start. He made his first start April 23 and has been a veritable workhorse since then, making 126 starts and going 49-32 with a 3.38 ERA.

Jeff Locke of the Marlins had biceps tendinitis in spring training of 2017 and made his first start on June 1. After going 0-5 with an 8.16 ERA in seven starts, he was designated for assignment. He is currently waiting for a team to call him. It's important to note that his bad 2017 wasn't related to biceps tendinitis as much as it was related to the fact that he's a bad pitcher.

Jered Weaver of the Angels missed a start late in 2012, the season in which he finished third in AL Cy Young voting.

Zack Wheeler of the Mets was put on the 10-day DL in late June 2017 because of biceps tendinitis. He made only four starts the rest of the season, going 0-2 with a 4.95 ERA.

So, though results are mixed, I'd say things look good in the long term for Kershaw. Hamels is the closest match for him from the people above, and he has been his old self since overcoming the injury. But anything is possible.

How does this affect Kershaw opting out after the season? Way too soon to tell. If this becomes a bigger injury, then he may not opt out at all. But if he returns in three weeks and pitches well the rest of the way, he will almost surely opt out. We'll just have to wait and see.

What is the Dodger rotation now? Well, assuming Rich Hill is really going to pitch tonight, the current rotation is:

Rich Hill

Kenta Maeda

Alex Wood

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Walker Buehler

Ross Stripling

The Dodgers old-timers game (whoops, I mean "alumni" game), is Saturday. Who knows? If a guy like Tim Leary or Fernando Valenzuela pitches well, they may get signed to a contract.

And hey! Scott Kazmir is still available!

In other news

The Dodgers went 4-7 on the recent road trip. The less said about it, the better.

Weird scheduling

The Dodgers have played 34 games this season. They have played Arizona 10 times and the Giants 10 times. Their next two games will be against Arizona, so 61.1% of their first 36 games will have been against two teams. Meanwhile, games are being rained or snowed out back east. Wouldn't it make sense to perhaps have some of those East Coast teams play out here at the start of the season? At least vary the schedule a bit. Twenty-two of 36 games against two teams is ridiculous. I know making a schedule is difficult, but I make better schedules for my Strat-O-Matic baseball teams at home.

Fred Claire

Former Dodgers general manager Fred Claire, who put together the team that won the 1988 World Series, has graciously agreed to answer questions from Dodgers Dugout readers. Claire, who has been battling cancer for the last several months, is holding a golf tournament on Aug. 20 at Oakmont Country Club in Glendale to benefit City of Hope medical center. The Fred Claire Celebrity Golf Classic will include many Dodger greats, and Tommy Lasorda will be receiving the Celebration of Life Award. For more information, check out the tournament website here.

So, email me your question​​​​​​​s for Claire by clicking here. I will send them to him and he will answer select questions in a future newsletter.

Comparison

2018 Dodgers: 15-19, fourth place in NL West, 8 games behind Arizona, +10 run differential

2017 Dodgers: 20-14, second place in NL West, 1.5 games behind Colorado, +53 run differential

These names seem familiar

What recently departed Dodgers are doing around the league (through Sunday):

Adrian Gonzalez, Mets: .231/.311/.372, 3 HRs, 17 RBIs, 91 OPS+

Charlie Culberson, Braves, .176/.263/.206, 33 OPS+

Brandon McCarthy, Braves, 4-1, 4.84 ERA, 80 ERA+

Yu Darvish, Cubs, 0-3, 6.00 ERA, 66 ERA+

Curtis Granderson, Blue Jays, .288/.441/.507, 157 OPS+

Brandon Morrow, Cubs, 0-0, 7 saves, 1.50 ERA, 271 ERA+

Tony Watson, Giants, 1-1, 0.57 ERA, 682 ERA+

Chris Hatcher, A's, 3-0, 9.00 ERA, 48 ERA+

Luis Avilan, White Sox, 0-0, 3.60 ERA, 121 ERA+

Trayce Thompson, White Sox, .130/.167/.348, 38 OPS+

Wilmer Font, A's, 0-0, 13.50 ERA, 37 ERA+

Andre Ethier, still unsigned

Up next

Tuesday, 7 p.m.: Arizona (Zack Godley, 4-2, 3.41 ERA) at Dodgers (Rich Hill, 1-1, 6.00 ERA)

Wednesday, 7 p.m.: Arizona (Patrick Corbin) at Dodgers (Alex Wood, 0-3, 3.83)

And finally

It is too soon for the Dodgers to make a move in response to the Kershaw injury. Read all about it here.

Have a comment or something you'd like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me and follow me on Twitter: @latimeshouston.

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