Just hours before their season began Thursday, the Dodgers unexpectedly placed left-handed ace Clayton Kershaw on the injured list because of back stiffness. Fortunately for Los Angeles, though, it doesn’t appear Kershaw will be out for long. The 32-year-old threw from 90 feet Friday and offered a positive update on his status, telling Ken Gurnick of MLB.com and other reporters he’s optimistic that he’ll return soon.
With Kershaw down for Thursday’s opener against the archrival Giants, the loaded Dodgers turned to right-hander Dustin May as their starter. The hard-throwing 22-year-old proceeded to turn in an effective performance with 4 1/3 innings of seven-hit, one-run ball, adding four strikeouts against zero walks in an 8-1 Dodgers romp.
Of course, even though the Dodgers’ first game went well in Kershaw’s absence, there’s no question they’re a better team with the eight-time All-Star and three-time National League Cy Young winner in their rotation. Kershaw wasn’t at peak form last year, yet he still notched 178 1/3 innings of 3.03 ERA/3.86 FIP pitching with 9.54 K/9 and 2.07 BB/9.
The Dodgers will be glad to welcome Kershaw back when he’s ready, but there’s no timeline for his return as of now. For the time being, then, May will continue to complement budding ace Walker Buehler, Ross Stripling, Julio Urias and Alex Wood in the Dodgers’ rotation.