The dodgers announced that they had placed Clayton Kershaw on the 15-day injured list, citing lower back pain. User Chris Taylor returned from his own IL stint to take the vacant active roster spot. Los Angeles also recalled a reliever Reyes Moronta of Triple-A Oklahoma City and an eligible outfielder James Outman.
Kershaw lands on the IL for the second time this season. He lost about a month between early May and June with inflammation in his right hip area. The future Hall of Famer returned and went on to make ten more starts before yesterday’s outing. After pitching four innings of two-run ball in an eventual win over the Giants, Kershaw went to the mound for his warm-up pitches to start the fifth. He pulled himself from the game after experiencing some pain in his lower back, and that issue will likely keep him out of action for at least the next few weeks.
The team has not provided a timetable for Kershaw’s return, and the reported diagnosis of “low back pain” remains hazy. They’ll certainly be cautious with the 34-year-old, especially since he’s landed on the injured list at least once in every season since 2016. That included stints for back issues every year between 2016-18. With a 12 1/2 game lead over the Padres in the NL West, the Dodgers can feel comfortable playing things slowly with key players over the final months.
While Kershaw is no longer taking on the kind of workloads he did during his prime, he is still among the sport’s best pitchers in terms of rate. Through 85 1/3 innings this season, the three-time Cy Young winner carries a 2.64 ERA with an above-average 26.2% strikeout percentage and 48.5% groundball percentage. Kershaw’s fastball sits in the 90 MPH range, but he arguably possesses the game’s best command and hasn’t walked more than 6% of batters faced in a season in a decade.
Kershaw’s trip to the IL is leaving Julio Urijah, Tony Gonsolin, Tyler Anderson and Andrew Heaney as the top four of the rotation for the moment. Ryan Pepiot and Michael Grove there are depth options at Triple-A, and the club seems likely to welcome a hard-hitting righty Dustin May back in the not too distant future. Manager Dave Roberts told MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM this afternoon that May will likely return for the club’s Aug. 19-21 series against the Marlins (Twitter link). The 24-year-old has been out all season recovering from May 2021 Tommy John surgery, but he has been on rehab duty since mid-July. Roberts indicated he will likely make two more starts in Oklahoma City before returning to the big league club, though he left open the possibility that May rejoins the MLB team after just one more Triple-A appearance.
Taylor makes his return to the starting lineup, exactly one month after breaking his left foot. It’s a quick bounce back for an injury of that magnitude, and Roberts suggested he’ll get the nod at second base tonight. It will be Taylor’s first infield appearance of the season, as he has worked exclusively on grass this year. Taylor recorded 502 innings in left field, along with 57 and 56 frames in center and right, respectively.
Of course, Taylor made a name for himself with his defensive flexibility in previous seasons. He’s capable of playing just about anywhere on the diamond except for catcher, and it seems the club is content to get him back into the infield on occasion. Gavin Lux and Trea Turner make for an excellent middle infield duo, with Max Muncy playing primarily third base as Justin Turner landed on the IL on Tuesday. Taylor will likely spend most of his time in the outfield still, but the ability to log some action on the dirt will allow Roberts more flexibility in managing infield reps. The 31-year-old will try to get going offensively after his month off, as he carries a .238/.319/.409 line with a whopping 35.4% strikeout rate through 285 plate appearances on the year.