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Clayton Kershaw dealing with lower back stiffness, not expected to miss start

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw is dealing with minor discomfort in his back, manager Dave Roberts told reporters on Monday in Pittsburgh, though the pitcher isn't expected to miss his next scheduled start.

The malady was first reported on Monday morning by Doug Padilla of ESPN, with Roberts saying the back issue did not affect Kershaw's start against the Pirates on Sunday night, in which Kershaw allowed four runs in six innings and suffered just his second loss of the season:

Roberts called Kershaw's lower-back discomfort an "off-and-on issue" but sounded far from concerned about it, saying Kershaw "absolutely" would make his next scheduled start, expected to be at home Friday against the Colorado Rockies.

Roberts confirmed the news after the game when asked by other reporters as well.

Kershaw leads the majors this year in ERA (1.79), innings (121) and strikeouts (145), and if he has been dealing with the back issue for a few weeks, it is hard to pinpoint any direct effect on his performance. Sunday night was just the second time all season that Kershaw allowed more than two runs in a start in 2016.

Perhaps from a relative standpoint, Kershaw's 2.86 ERA over his last four starts looks rather ordinary, though that's only compared to his own lofty standards, and it also comes with 36 strikeouts against only two unintentional walks in 28⅓ innings during that span.

If he remains on rotation, Kershaw will only have two more starts before the All-Star break, Friday then next Wednesday. Even if he pitches in his sixth straight All-Star Game, on July 12 in San Diego, Kershaw could have a built-in period of extra rest during which he only pitches an inning in an eight-day span, and that span could be made longer depending on how the Dodgers shuffle their rotation coming out of the All-Star break.

Every team in baseball is off on July 13-14, with the Dodgers resuming their schedule on Friday, July 15 in Arizona.