The Dodgers on Tuesday got a piece of good news. Ace starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw got a second opinion from hip specialist Dr. Bryan Kelly on Tuesday in New York, and the left-hander could pitch again this season, though initial information is vague.
Manager Don Mattingly said there was a chance that Kershaw could pitch again this season, per Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times. Though Mattingly didn't tell reporters any details of Kershaw's meeting with Dr. Kelly, Mattingly did say, "It didn't sound too bad."
Now, Kershaw still isn't scheduled to start or even throw a bullpen session, per Hernandez, and Stephen Fife will remain in the rotation for now.
But Kershaw simply having a chance to pitch again in 2012 is a much brighter outlook than Kershaw not being ready at the start of the 2013 season.
The Dodgers issued a statement saying that Dr. Kelly agreed with team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache that Kershaw has an impingement of the right hip that is adversely affected while pitching. Dr. Kelly feels that Kershaw can continue to pitch without doing further damage to his hip.
But the Dodgers' statement said that Kershaw "would not be allowed to pitch if he continues to have hip pain." The team has already sent MRI and other test results to other hip specialists to seek other opinions.
Kershaw will re-start his throwing program on Tuesday.
Kershaw followed up his National League Cy Young Award winning campaign with another solid year. He was 12-9 with a 2.70 ERA in 30 starts, and is second to R.A. Dickey in both ERA and innings pitched (206 2/3). Kershaw's 206 strikeouts currently lead the league, one ahead of Dickey.
With his 142 ERA+ this season, Kershaw is poised to join Sandy Koufax as the only Dodgers with four straight seasons with an ERA+ of at least 130, with enough innings to qualify for the ERA title.
|Dodgers w/4 Straight Years Of Sub-3.00 ERA|
Back on Feb. 21, the day pitchers and catchers reported to spring training, manager Don Mattingly said it would be unfair to expect Kershaw to repeat his 2011 season, and noted that Kershaw would need some help and good fortune to win 21 games again.
"Basically every time he pitches, the team he is pitching against knows they are facing one of the best pitchers in the game and last year the best pitcher in the game," Mattingly said. "Clayton could go out and pitch better, and not have as many wins. Sometimes that's the way it goes."
Kershaw had five games this season with seven or more innings allowing one run or less that resulted in a no-decision or a loss, the most such games in MLB. He was 5-1 with four no-decisions in such games this season, after going 11-0 with one no-decision when allowing one or no runs in seven innings or more last year.
After an uncharacteristically bad outing in St. Louis on July 24 in which he gave up a career-high eight runs, Kershaw put on quite a finishing kick to his season. In his last nine starts Kershaw allowed just 14 runs, and he was 5-3 with a 1.76 ERA with 70 strikeouts and 14 walks in 66 1/3 innings.
Whether or not Kershaw gets to add to that finish remains to be seen. But there is a chance, and for now that will have to do.
Tuesday's game with the Nationals has been postponed. The two teams will play a doubleheader on Wednesday beginning at 1:05 p.m. PDT, with Aaron Harang and Jordan Zimmermann pitching Game 1, and Josh Beckett facing off against John Lannan in Game 2. Both games will be televised by KCAL.