It was left shoulder inflammation that caused Clayton Kershaw to leave his Tuesday start after only 79 pitches, the Dodgers left-hander told reporters on Thursday at Coors Field in Denver.
Kershaw got a cortisone shot in his left shoulder and was shut down from throwing for a few days. He’ll avoid the injured list for now, but that could change.
The three-time Cy Young Award winner said this is not the first time he has had “shoulder stuff” or the first time he received an injection for it. And it wouldn’t be the first time he has pitched with a sore shoulder, he acknowledged.
“It’s been like three or four years,” he said. “Usually the shots help pretty good. So I’m somewhat optimistic that I should be good. (I’m) hopeful to not miss the start. Obviously, with the All-Star break coming up, we have some time to potentially shift things around so we’ll see. But as of now, kind of on the same day-to-day basis, probably start picking up the ball at some point in Kansas City, see how it does and if it feels good, hopefully make my next one.”
Kershaw allowed only one hit and one walk in facing the minimum number of batters through six scoreless innings on Tuesday to beat the Rockies, but at the end of the sixth inning he was seen on the SportsNet LA broadcast signaling that he was done for the night on his walk back to the dugout.
His next start wouldn’t be earlier than Monday, when the Dodgers are back home to face the Pirates, but that will depend on how Kershaw feels in the next few days.
Clayton Kershaw speaks on his shoulder injury and the plan to get back to the mound. pic.twitter.com/808S7IEssd— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) June 29, 2023
In his 16th season, Kershaw is still one of the best pitchers in baseball, ranking in the top 10 in the National League in ERA (2.55), xERA (3.42), strikeouts (105), strikeout rate (27.7 percent), innings pitched, wins (10), bWAR (3.1), and fWAR (2.2). He just ended a June in which he allowed only four runs in 33 innings, posting a 1.09 ERA with 30 strikeouts during the month.
Kershaw is the only one of the top seven starting pitchers on the Dodgers season-opening depth chart to avoid the injured list in 2023. But with the All-Star break coming, if there was ever a time that a rest would result in minimal cost, it’s now.
An injured list stint could cost as little as one start for Kershaw. The Dodgers are off Sunday, July 9, and the All-Star break lasts four days. The team’s first game after the break is Friday, July 14 against the Mets in New York, so any IL decision made by early next week would clear Kershaw to return within the first five games after the All-Star break.