Dodgers have no shoulder to lean on after Kershaw goes down

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A really weird thing has occurred in Hollywood. Now, without notice, the Dodgers suffer from an injury bug that has been going around at the clubhouse.

For now, all we know is that they look carefree about the health of their starting ace Clayton Kershaw. But, for not knowing much about his injury that landed him on the 10-day disabled list, they should be scared watching a horror movie playing at a stadium near them.

And while most can’t fathom how the hell this team went from contenders to pretenders, the Dodgers have revealed no official timetable for Kershaw’s return. It is a bit unusual for this club to fall farther behind in the division standings.

It seems as if the depleted Dodgers are not poised to run away with the National League West title. It’s even harder to get through a stressful, demanding season when the team has much ground to make up with a starting rotation that doesn’t have all its parts.

Kershaw’s biceps tendinitis raises concern about the Dodgers the rest of the way, and nobody is really sure when he is scheduled to make his next start. If he returns soon, it’ll be a while before he’s back to normal, and a setback seems imminent if he rushes back from the injury.

This happened at a particularly unfortunate juncture for the Dodgers. When he’s unhealthy, they realize he’s an important player they need as the season progresses if they want to jockey for a playoff position at the top of their respective division.

Kershaw, a three-time NL Cy Young Award winner, has been bothered by a rash of injuries. For the fourth time in his career, after missing significant time in 2016 and 2017 with back problems, he’s put on the disabled list due to a debilitating ailment.

Which is to say, when he’s been down and out, Kershaw is not the same pitcher he once was nearly every time he was given the ball. If he’s not complaining of back pain, the 30-year-old lefty is feeling aches or soreness in his shoulder.

In seven starts this season, he’s posted a 1-4 record with a 2.86 ERA with 48 strikeouts and 10 walks in 44 innings. He only gave up six hits, struck out six batters and walked one through seven innings, just allowing two runs on Tuesday against Arizona.

Sure enough, despite Kershaw’s solid effort,  it has gone unnoticed and really doesn’t matter much for the Dodgers. He underwent an MRI in Los Angeles to confirm the diagnosis which showed no structural damage.

It was positive news for all, and Kershaw, of all people, should feel relieved and ready to begin rehab. But it’s quite telling his bad mood was intensified because he’s not clear to pitch.

In short, Kershaw will have to respond to treatment and can fully recover in the process. If anything, as he’s done in the past, he never gives up in the face of adversity. He’s a great competitor, a hard-throwing arm the Dodgers will need during the long days of the summer, especially if they don’t play well to win games as midseason looms.

For the first time in his big-league career, he’s battling a shoulder injury, but it’s not bad to where it requires Tommy John surgery. He doesn’t have a torn ligament or a fracture, but it was the first thing that came to people’s minds when a shoulder injury is usually not good.

Sometimes a pitcher’s throwing arm is never the same. The pitches begin to miss their spots, the pitching delivery suddenly seems off and mechanical flaws are a hindrance to the pitcher’s abilities.

It sounds as if Kershaw has carried the weight of world on his shoulders for too long, that he tore off a part of his arm. It’s at this point, quite honestly, when the Dodgers don’t have a true ace, or bullpen depth to hold onto leads.

Nine times out of 10, Kershaw will pitch effectively into the late innings and secure a victory. The rest of the starting rotation, in the meantime, failed to provide the support he needed on the nights he wasn’t called upon to deliver.

He sounded optimistic about recovering quickly. But his injured left shoulder could cause problems if he overuses his throwing arm. This could be wear and tear on his body. This could force him to step away from baseball if not careful.

It feels as if the team’s championship window is abruptly closing and, after this season Kershaw can opt for free agency if he chooses. He has two years remaining on his existing deal roughly worth $65 million.

If he does still have the ability to throw hard and regains control of his pitches, there’s a good possibility you will see a dominant starter continue a historic path and march into the record books.

But Kershaw’s dominance over the past few seasons has waned. He’s not throwing consistently and suddenly he has a penchant for giving up home runs.

The Dodgers used to be perfect when Kershaw started games, clearly someone nobody wanted to face on any giving night. But now, beat up with a blown shoulder, Kershaw is limited to what he can deliver, sidelined by an injury that could have been a lot worse.

Maybe the heavy workload he has shouldered caught up to him, affecting his throwing motion and the speed of his pitches.

When he was at his best, Kershaw was nearly unhittable and rarely surrendered homers at an alarming rate, but lately he hasn’t done much to be depicted as the game’s most dominant pitcher.

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