Clayton Kershaw pulled out early on Thursday with another back problem, and the Los Angeles Dodgers will now be holding their breath.
The longtime Dodgers pitcher was throwing warm-up pitches before the start of the fifth inning when he stopped and signaled to the dugout that something was wrong. Lip readers believed he said “my back” as he descended the embankment.
Kershaw came out with four strikeouts and two allowed runs (one earned) in four running innings.
About an hour later, the Dodgers announced that Kershaw had left due to lower back pain.
The severity of Kershaw’s injury remains unclear, but his history of back problems is hard to ignore. Since 2014, the 34-year-old has been on the injured list with back injuries in five different seasons, though none of those injuries has ever ended a season.
Kershaw has been on the injured list once this season with right sacroiliac joint inflammation, missing about a month from May to June. He was stellar when on the mound, entering Thursday with a 2.66 ERA, 84 strikeouts and a .984 WHIP in 81.1 innings through 14 starts.
Any missed moment by Kershaw would be a blow to the Dodgers, who have already inflicted serious injuries on starters Walker Buhler and Andrew Heaney this season, as well as a handful of bullpen hands. They are also still waiting for the return of Dustin May, who is currently in rehab following Tommy John surgery.
When the Dodgers are healthy, the Dodgers have a lot of starting pitches to the point where they decreased their rotation depth at the trade deadline, sending Mitch White to the Toronto Blue Jays. However, this health was a big question, especially on Thursday.