Kershaw, 35, was placed on the 15-day IL July 3, retroactive to June 30, due to soreness in his left shoulder. It was initially hoped that the southpaw could return after a brief respite, perhaps only missing a start or two since the All-Star break was coming up. However, subsequent reporting indicated he would likely be out until early August, which has now come to pass, as he will take the ball to start tonight’s game against the Rockies.
Prior to the IL stint, the results continued to be excellent for Kershaw. He’s thrown 95 1/3 innings over 16 starts so far this year, having allowed 2.55 earned runs per nine innings. His 27.7% strikeout rate, 6.3% walk rate and 47.2% ground ball rate are all above league average.
Trips to the IL have become the norm for him, with 2015 being the last season in which he didn’t have at least one stint away from the club. That was also the last year in which he topped 180 regular season innings, and he’s been held beneath 127 frames in each campaign since 2019.
Although Kershaw’s absence wasn’t especially long, rotation health has been and continues to be a major focus for the club. Walker Buehler has been on the IL all year due to last year’s Tommy John surgery. Dustin May required flexor tendon surgery a few months back and won’t return this year. Tony Gonsolin missed time due to an ankle sprain and Julio Urías was sidelined by a hamstring strain. Ryan Pepiot was on the IL for about four months due to an oblique strain and Michael Grove recently hit the shelf due to lat tightness.
The club acquired Lance Lynn from the White Sox prior to the deadline to bolster the rotation, though he has an ERA over 6.00 for the year. They also wanted to acquire Eduardo Rodriguez from the Tigers and reportedly had a deal in place, though he nixed that with his limited no-trade clause. That leaves the club with a five-man rotation of Kershaw, Lynn, Urías, Gonsolin and rookie Bobby Miller for the time being. Urías and Gonsolin have also been a bit shaky this year, with ERAs of 4.39 and 4.43, respectively. Depth options include Pepiot, Gavin Stone, and Emmet Sheehan, though each of those have posted middling results this year. Ryan Yarbrough is on hand as a long relief option in the bullpen and could perhaps jump into a rotation role, if needed.
Despite those rotation challenges, the Dodgers are still leading the National League West, six games clear of the Giants. The health and performance of the rotation figures to be an important factor in how strong they finish the regular season and perhaps how they perform in the postseason.