Clayton Kershaw sounded resigned Friday to being done for the 2021 season.
The Dodgers left-hander said it’s “not looking great for October” after he had to leave his start vs. the Brewers in the second inning because of forearm discomfort. He missed 2 1/2 months from early July through mid-September with a similar ailment.
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“Just felt something there in my elbow in the second inning,” Kershaw said, per ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez. “Forearm, elbow, I don’t know what it is. Kind of the same thing I’ve been dealing with.”
He hinted at how serious the latest injury is by all but ruling himself out of the playoffs. Los Angeles’ postseason will begin next week in the National League wild-card game or one of the NL Division Series. LA trails the Giants by two games in the NL West with two games to play, but it has already clinched at least a wild-card berth.
“I know that we’re going to do something special this year and I wanted to be a part of that. That’s the hardest part for me right now is that chances are it’s not looking great for October right now. Overall it’s going to be fun to watch,” Kershaw said, per Gonzalez. He said he will be examined in “the next few days.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters (per MLB.com’s Juan Toribio) the team is “just not too optimistic right now” about Kershaw given the time remaining in the season.
Kershaw, 33, was limited to 22 starts and 121 2/3 innings this year because of injuries. He posted a 3.55 ERA and 10.65 strikeouts per nine innings.
As serious as losing Kershaw is, Los Angeles’ rotation is deep enough to at least get through a wild-card game and a five-game NLDS. Max Scherzer (1.98 ERA), Walker Buehler (2.49 ERA) and Julio Urias (3.01 ERA) are the top three starters and Tony Gonsolin (3.23 ERA) can fill in as a No. 4. David Price was in the rotation from around the All-Star break through late August before returning to the bullpen.
The Dodgers have pieced together about 20 bullpen games this year, but that may not be a good option in the playoffs. Tighter roster restrictions in the postseason will make it difficult for the front office to manipulate pitching staff spots like it does in the regular season. A player who is taken off the active roster during a playoff round is ineligible for the remainder of that round and all of the next round.