Dodgers place Clayton Kershaw on injured list with left forearm inflammation
Entering the season, the Dodgers’ starting pitching depth was the sturdiest strength on a loaded roster, an unmatched surplus other Major League Baseball clubs envied.
They already boasted one of the best rotations before signing Trevor Bauer, the top free-agent pitcher on the market, in February to raise the payroll to $250 million. They featured up-and-comers and established stars. They were poised to ride the arms to another championship. That has changed in a blink.
Three months later, the Dodgers’ rotation is decimated. Dustin May tore his ulnar collateral ligament May 1 and is out for the season. Last week, Bauer was placed on paid seven-day administrative leave after a woman accused him of sexual assault and obtained a temporary restraining order. The latest setback came Wednesday before their 9-6, walk-off loss to the Miami Marlins: Clayton Kershaw to the 10-day injured list with left forearm inflammation.
Kershaw, 33, last pitched Saturday against the Washington Nationals. The left-hander surrendered three runs over four innings before a 1-hour, 44-minute rain delay ended his night. He has a 3.39 earned-run average in 1061/3 innings across 18 starts this season.
Kershaw, who is in the last year of his contract, has spent time on the injured list every season since 2016, but this is the first time that he’s out with a forearm or elbow injury. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Kershaw first felt discomfort in his elbow playing catch this week. He said he didn’t know how much time Kershaw will miss. Kershaw is scheduled to undergo tests when the club returns to Los Angeles.
Kershaw was scheduled to start Friday against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Now he won’t pitch until after the All-Star break, leaving the Dodgers (53-34) scrambling to cover more innings after bullpen games Sunday and Wednesday. Roberts said the team will use another bullpen game Friday.
Disappointed that he was not named an All-Star, Kenley Jansen is pitching at the level he occupied when he was one of the best relievers in baseball.
“I think we’re trying to be smart about this,” Roberts said. “Understanding that we have the All-Star break so skip a start, have the break, reassess where he’s at and make a decision.”
In the interim, the club recalled Mitch White to replace Kershaw on the roster for Wednesday’s game. Minor league pitcher Darien Núñez was with the team at LoanDepot Park but wasn’t activated. David Price, usually a choice to pitch multiple innings out of the bullpen, was held out because the Dodgers plan to use him Friday.
The situation was so dire that 28-year-old Jake Reed, who joined the organization last month, opened the game after making his major league debut Tuesday.
Garrett Cooper blasted the first of his two solo home runs in Reed’s only inning to give Miami the lead in the first. White then pitched the next four innings. He gave up three runs — two earned — across four innings.
The Dodgers were so short-handed that, after Phil Bickford and Joe Kelly pitched, closer Kenley Jansen was summoned with the score tied and one out in the eighth inning. The first batter Jansen faced, Miguel Rojas, reached on Austin Barnes’ catcher’s inference behind home plate.
Magneuris Sierra then executed a delayed steal of third base and scored on Jesús Sánchez’s two-out single to left field. Jansen struck out Jon Berti to strand the bases loaded without further damage.
Moments later, Zach McKinstry clubbed a solo home run off right-hander Anthony Bender to keep the Dodgers afloat. It was the Dodgers’ fourth homer of the night; they recorded the first three in their five-run third inning against left-hander Ross Detwiler.
Legal experts tell The Times that testimony from Trevor Bauer at a hearing about a restraining order could be used against him in a potential criminal case.
The Dodgers were so limited that they gave the ball to Edwin Uceta, who had given up 13 runs in his 151/3 career innings, in the ninth inning. With two outs, Jesús Aguilar smashed a three-run home run to give the Marlins (38-47) their second straight walk-off win and the Dodgers’ third consecutive loss to the last-place club after posting a season-long nine-game winning streak.
It was the Dodgers’ eighth planned bullpen game this season and the first time they’ve yielded more than three runs in one of them. They made two errors, giving them five in the series and 10 on their eight-game trip, which wraps up Thursday.
“We’re not doing all the little things right,” third baseman Justin Turner said, “and it seems like we’re paying for every mistake.”
The Dodgers had relied on elite starting pitching to mask deficiencies elsewhere, but that’ll be in shorter supply in the immediate future. Roberts said Monday he didn’t expect Bauer to return to the club when his leave expires Friday. Major League Baseball is expected to attain approval from the players’ union to extend the leave another seven days.
Bauer had been scheduled to pitch Sunday against the Nationals. The Dodgers opted for a bullpen game instead and decided to conduct another Wednesday against the Marlins after using six relievers in their loss Monday. In all, relievers have logged 35 innings in the last seven days.
The seemingly obvious long-term answer for the rotation is to have Price move from the bullpen to the rotation. The Dodgers have avoided that path, but Roberts said Wednesday it’s a more likely scenario after Kershaw’s injury. Over the weekend, Price said he is open to returning to the role — he was the 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner and a five-time All-Star as a starter in his first 12 full major league seasons. It would just take time to build up his stamina.
Next in line internally is Josiah Gray, the organization’s top pitching prospect. The Dodgers could also acquire help from the July 31st trade deadline. Kershaw could return before then, but they’ll still likely be without Bauer.
For now, they’re leaning on the bullpen to patch the holes. On Wednesday, the taxed group wasn’t good enough.
The Dodgers outrighted corner infielder-outfielder Yoshi Tsutsugo off their 40-man roster Wednesday. He will remain with the organization and continue playing for triple-A Oklahoma City. The Dodgers had to decide on Tsutsugo’s status after his 20-day rehab assignment period expired Wednesday. He had been placed on the injured list because of a right calf strain June 9. He was eight for 58 (.138) with a .538 OPS in 15 games with Oklahoma City entering Wednesday.
Are you a true-blue fan?
Get our Dodgers Dugout newsletter for insights, news and much more.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.