Clayton Kershaw left his final start of the regular season in the second inning with left forearm discomfort.
Kershaw allowed three runs on four hits in the second inning, and retired only five of his 10 batters faced on the night. After a two-out RBI double by Kolten Wong, manager Dave Roberts and trainer Neil Rampe visited the mound. Roberts said after the game he noticed some wincing from Kershaw during the Wong at-bat.
After some discussion, Kershaw walked off the field with Rampe, the left-hander’s night over after 42 pitches.
Kershaw will undergo testing on his left forearm and elbow on Monday.
“Obviously when Clayton has to come out of a game, it doesn’t bode well,” manager Dave Roberts said. “What that means, we just don’t know enough right now. Where we are, what’s left in the season, just not too optimistic right now.”
“It’s a tough blow, obviously. I felt something in my elbow in the second inning,” Kershaw said. “Forearm, elbow. I don’t know what it is, but it’s kind of the same thing I’ve been dealing with, and it got bad enough where I couldn’t keep going tonight.”
Kershaw seemed resigned to the fact that his 2021 season is likely over.
“I just wanted to be a part of this team going into October. This team is special. I know we’re going to do something special this year, and I wanted to be a part of that. Chances are it’s not looking great for October,” he said. “It’s going to be a challenge to even contribute at all.”
Friday was the fourth start back for Kershaw after missing over two months with inflammation in his left elbow, including a rehab that was delayed with soreness in his arm. After getting activated in September, Kershaw said he was “thankful” to be a part of another playoff chase.
“I didn’t really know what it was going to look like, honestly, at the end of this season,” Kershaw said on September 13. “For me to be able to be a part of it is huge. I will never take that for granted, ever, to be in a playoff race, to be a part of it.”
The results were mixed for the 33-year-old, with a pair of starts allowing only one run, including inducing 20 swings and misses in five innings on September 19 in Cincinnati. Kershaw had a 4.70 ERA and 3.03 FIP in 15⅓ innings, with 17 strikeouts and a pair of walks.
“The biggest thing is the way his body is responded after the starts,” Roberts said before the game. “There’s been some really good command and the last one there wasn’t good command. So I think the most important though, is that the recovery part of it.”
All four starts since Kershaw’s return came on five days rest.
Friday was Kershaw’s final start of the regular season, and with postseason availability very much in doubt, and his pending free agency, there is at least a chance this was Kershaw’s final start as a Dodger. Him taking the baseball with him as he left the game served as a tangible reminder of the possibility.
Kershaw after the game chalked up his keeping the ball to “probably shock” of the moment, and that he didn’t realize he still had the ball until he got to the dugout. He said he isn’t yet thinking about free agency.
“My future is going to take care of itself. I’m not really worried about that right now. I really wanted to be with this group going into October,” Kershaw said. “I haven’t wrapped my head around [free agency], and I don’t plan to anytime soon.”
Kershaw’s looming free agency wasn’t mentioned during the pregame manager scrum, but Roberts was asked if Kershaw’s starts were still an event in his 14th major league season.
“It’s not lost on any of us how fortunate we are to have him as a Dodger, and what he’s done for the Dodgers organization, the joy he’s brought to the fanbase and the winning he brought to the organization,” Roberts said. “Every time it’s Kershaw day, I personally get excited and try to resist wearing my fan cap for the night. You guys know how much I root for him, because he’s earned it.”