The Dodgers announced that they had placed Clayton Kershaw on the 15-day injured list, citing lower back pain. Utility Chris Taylor is back from his own stint in IL to take the vacant spot on the active roster. Los Angeles also recalled the reliever Reyes Moronte of Triple-A Oklahoma City and optional 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. The future Hall of Famer returned and went on to make ten more starts before yesterday’s release. After throwing four two-run innings in an eventual win over the Giants, Kershaw came out to the mound for his warm-up pitches to start the fifth. He retired from the game after experiencing lower back pain, and this issue will apparently keep him out of action for at least the next few weeks.
The team did not provide a timeline for Kershaw’s return, and the reported diagnosis of “low back pain” remains unclear. They will surely be cautious with the 34-year-old, especially as he has landed on the injured list at least once every season since 2016. This included spells for prior issues every year between 2016 and 2018. With a 12 1/2 game lead over the Padres in the NL West, the Dodgers can feel comfortable playing slow with key players over the past two months.
While Kershaw no longer takes on the kind of workload he did in his prime, he is still among the best pitchers in the sport on a fee basis. In 85 1/3 innings this season, the three-time Cy Young winner has a 2.64 ERA with an above-average strikeout rate of 26.2% and 48.5 rushed percentage. %. Kershaw’s fastball is in the 90 mph range, but he has arguably the best control in the game and hasn’t walked more than 6% of batters faced in a season for a decade.
Kershaw’s Journey to the IL Leaves Jules Urie, Tony Gonsolin, Tyler Anderson and Andrew Heane as the top four in the rotation at the moment. Ryan Pepiot and Michael Bosquet are depth options at Triple-A, and the club looks likely to welcome the hard-throwing right-hander 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 by the club’s August 19-21 series against the Marlins (Twitter link). The 24-year-old has been out all season recovering from Tommy John surgery in May 2021, but has been in rehab since mid-July. Roberts indicated he would likely make two more starts at Oklahoma City before returning to the big league club, although he left open the possibility of May joining the MLB team after just one more Triple-A appearance.
Taylor returns to the starting lineup, exactly one month after fracturing his left foot. It’s a quick rebound for an injury of this magnitude, and Roberts suggested he would get the go-ahead at second base tonight. This will be Taylor’s first on-court appearance this season, as he has worked exclusively on grass this year. Taylor recorded 502 innings to left field, as well as 57 and 56 frames to center and right, respectively.
Of course, Taylor has made a name for himself with his defensive flexibility in previous seasons. He’s capable of playing virtually anywhere on the pitch other than the receiver, and it seems the club are content to bring him back onto the pitch on occasion. Gavin Lux and Trea Turner form an excellent midfield duo, with Max Muncy primarily playing third base as Justin Turner landed on the IL on Tuesday. Taylor will likely spend most of his time in the outfield, but the ability to record action on the dirt will give Roberts more flexibility in managing field reps. The 31-year-old will look to get going offensively after his month out, as he carries a .238/.319/.409 line with a whopping 35.4% strikeout rate in 285 plate appearances this year.