By Jon Weisman
Clayton Kershaw will finish the first half of the 2016 MLB season on the 15-day disabled list, Dave Roberts told reporters today.
Roberts said before today’s game in Milwaukee that Kershaw received an epidural in his lower back Wednesday after flying back early to Los Angeles. The Dodgers have not yet chosen who will take his scheduled Friday start, though Carlos Frias is a leading internal candidate if the Dodgers essentially decide to make it a bullpen game. A roster move has not officially been announced.
Baseball’s best pitcher went on the disabled list for the only previous time in his career in early 2014, when he began the season with a March start in Australia and didn’t return to action until May 6. He still won the National League Cy Young and Most Valuable Player awards.
Kershaw would be eligible to come off the disabled list during the All-Star Break, meaning his first possible start in a best-case scenario would be July 15 at Arizona. He has been the obvious choice to start the All-Star Game for the NL this year, but unless that becomes the most high-profile rehab outing in history, that certainly seems in jeopardy.
In any case, the Dodgers will be waiting to see how Kershaw responds to the epidural over the coming days.
Kershaw allowed four runs in the second inning of his June 26 start at Pittsburgh. His six innings and four strikeouts matched season lows, and his two walks (though one was intentional) were a season high. He finished June with a 2.36 ERA and 0.93 WHIP in 34 1/3 innings, walking four and striking out 40.
The Dodgers now have an entire starting rotation on the disabled list — Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Brandon McCarthy, Brett Anderson and Alex Wood — in addition to minor-league starter Brandon McCarthy.
Following Friday’s TBD, Scott Kazmir and Julio Urías would round out the weekend against the Rockies. For Urías, it will be his fourth Dodger Stadium appearance and first in a day game.
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Brock Stewart is likely to pitch again for the Dodgers on Independence Day against the Orioles. He definitely seemed to take lessons from his second-inning struggles Wednesday.
“The first two hits were pretty frustrating, and I probably let it get to me more than should have,” Stewart said, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. “I left balls up and they don’t miss them here, apparently. I didn’t slow myself down and make better pitches. You live and you learn.”
Gurnick added that “Stewart said if he had it to do over again, he would have ‘breathed more.’ Dave Roberts took the good with the bad, according to Bill Plunkett of the Register.
“It was one of those things where you still have to put this situation into perspective,” Roberts said. “I don’t want him to get too down on himself. I thought he did some good things and ultimately to get here – I wanted him to be in the moment and enjoy it, results not withstanding.
“Things here happen so quickly. If you look at things like quality of contact, he pitched better than the line score. But that’s the game. You feel a little bit bad for him. But no one’s going to feel sorry for us.”