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Dodgers place Clayton Kershaw on injured list with SI joint inflammation

Walker Buehler starts Friday instead

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Clayton Kershaw will not start for the Dodgers on Friday night. The left-hander was instead placed on the injured list with right SI joint inflammation.

Walker Buehler will start against the Phillies instead, on four days rest.

SI joint is often referred to as sacroiliitis, described by the Mayo Clinic as “situated where your lower spine and pelvis connect. Sacroiliitis can cause pain in your buttocks or lower back, and can extend down one or both legs.”

This marks the seventh consecutive season and eight out of the last nine that Kershaw has spent time on the injured list. Among the non-arm injuries included a teres major (upper back) strain in 2014, herniated disc in 2016, lower back strain in 2017, lower back discomfort in 2018, and back stiffness to start the 2020 season.

Over the last five full seasons, Kershaw has averaged 25 starts and 157 innings per season. Through five starts this season, the left-hander has a 1.80 ERA and 2.25 FIP in 30 innings, with 32 strikeouts against three walks.

Pitcher injured list stints are now 15 days long. The Dodgers say this is backdated to Monday, which would mean Kershaw could return as early as May 24. But there’s the matter of getting through games in the interim first.

Buehler steps in to start Friday, and is on regular rest thanks to Ryan Pepiot’s spot start on Wednesday in Pittsburgh. In theory, both Julio Urías and Tony Gonsolin could do the same on Saturday and Sunday, but that hasn’t been determined just yet. Either way, the Dodgers will need to bring someone up (or have a bullpen game) in one of the games Saturday, Sunday, or Monday. Distancing the potential heavy bullpen usage from Tuesday’s upcoming doubleheader (for which Pepiot is a candidate to return) probably suggests the next spot start and/or bullpen game would come sooner rather than later.

This injury to Kershaw and pending pitcher scramble further crystallized the decision on Thursday to have Tyler Anderson remain in the game for six innings even as he allowed seven runs on 10 hits.

More immediately, the Dodgers recalled Garrett Cleavinger to take Kershaw’s place on the active roster, adding an extra arm in the bullpen for now.