Kershaw’s injury is no reason to back away from Dodgers now

Clayton Kershaw looks on during batting practice.
Could the Dodgers’ dominant 2017 season be derailed by Clayton Kershaw’s back injury? (Arturo Pardavila III photo)

Maybe it was too good to be true. Is Clayton Kershaw’s back injury the thing that brings the Dodgers back to earth? Or will this just be part of an amazing story or perseverance that will culminate in their first world championship since 1988?

The Chavez Ravine feel-good movie of the summer took a sudden genre change toward horror in the past week. Not only did the Dodgers lose (gasp!) two games in a row for the first time since June 5-6 on Thursday and Friday against the 47-50 Atlanta Braves, but Kershaw (15-2, 2.04 ERA, 0.88 WHIP) is headed to the disabled list after reinjuring his back Sunday. Reports say he could be out 4-6 weeks.

Already you can hear the millennial bandwagon jumpers at Dodger Stadium whining: “Oh, noooo! Nobody said people might get injured or that the Dodgers might actually lose a game I went to!”

Look, folks. The Dodgers were 68-31 going into Monday night’s game against the Minnesota Twins, the best record in the majors by 2½ games and the National League’s best by eight. In the NL West, they lead Colorado by 10½ games and Arizona by 11½.

Every conceivable break has gone the Dodgers’ way at this point. It would be foolish to think at least a little adversity wouldn’t pop up at some point.

But understandably, this isn’t just a little adversity. This is very significant. Kershaw is just about as close to a guaranteed win as there is in baseball. Even though his Dodgers teammate, Alex Wood, is 11-1 with a 2.17 ERA and an opponents’ batting average of .188 (Kershaw’s is .197), Wood still doesn’t instill nearly as much confidence in the Dodgers and their fans as Kershaw does.

(By the way, Wood’s record was 11-0 and his ERA was 1.56 before Atlanta beat him Friday.)

This isn’t the first time Kershaw has had back trouble. He missed 2½ months last season with a herniated disk. It’s noteworthy that the Dodgers played well in his absence and wound up winning their fourth straight NL West title.

After leaving Sunday’s game at the end of the second inning, Kershaw felt “just felt a little something in my back that wasn’t normal,” he said.

“I’ve done countless, countless hours of back maintenance and rehab just trying to stay healthy and felt really, really good up to this point. There’s definitely frustration, for sure.”

At the same time Kershaw goes on the disabled list, a second starter, Brandon McCarthy will join him there due to a blister.

All this happens a week before the trade deadline and even before Kershaw’s exit, the Dodgers were reported to have interest in right-hander Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers.

The Dodgers’ ERA is the best in baseball and if Kershaw has to spend much time of the disabled list, that statistic will go up, but it will still be impressive. In addition, the offense has been jaw-dropping. It’s not a reach to say the Dodgers can keep up their safe margin in the standings even if they have to be without their ace for a while.

THE WEEK JUST PAST

Now, while checking the Billboard playlist to see if the Dodgers are singing I Only Have Eyes for Yu, let’s take a look at the week just past:

  • The Dodgers weren’t the only team to lose a starting pitcher Sunday. The Washington Nationals pulled Stephen Strasburg (10-3) with a 4-0 lead in the second inning because of “an achy forearm and tightness.” Of course, this potential injury isn’t as scary for the Nats as it once might have been because of Max Scherzer.
  • Perhaps it was only a matter of time, but the world champion Chicago Cubs finally overtook the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central standings after winning Sunday night. The Cubs’ margin, however, was only .001 going into Monday’s game against the White Sox.
  • As we said, the baseball trade deadline is looming next Monday. They say the best trades are the ones you don’t make, and almost none of the trades that are being rumored will be made. It takes a lot less to make a rumor than it does to make a trade.
  • Jordan Spieth’s remarkable turnaround in the final round of the British Open — one stroke behind after the 13th hole to a three-stroke victory — was one of the event’s most sensational performances. It certainly caught the attention of Jack Nicklaus:

  • I still believe The R&A is way too snooty when it insists on referring to its event as just “The Open.” There are too many “opens” out there, not the least of which is the U.S. Open. There’s no shame in calling it the British Open.
  • So there. Nyah, nyah, nyah.
  • Legendary Lakers coach John Kundla died Sunday at the age of 101. Legendary? Definitely. Kundla’s Lakers won six championships. And you never heard of him? You can probably be forgiven. Kundla’s titles came before the Lakers moved to Los Angeles, when they were still the Minneapolis Lakers. Those championships came not only in the NBA (1949, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1954), but also the league’s immediate predecessor, the National Basketball League in 1948. The star of the Lakers back then was 6-foot-10 center George Mikan.
  • Even though he was born in Pennsylvania, Kundla was a Minnesotan most of his life. The Lakers hired him from the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul and after coaching the Lakers from 1947 to 1959, he opted to stay in the state after the Lakers moved to L.A. and coach the University of Minnesota from 1959 to 1968.
  • No one should fault Kyrie Irving for wanting to be traded from the Cleveland Cavaliers so he can be the star somewhere else and escape from the shadow of LeBron James. However, making your request public when James himself knew nothing of it tarnishes your brand just a little bit.
  • It was downright comical to see the Lakers celebrate winning their Summer League championship as if it were the NBA Finals. But comedy right now is still what the Lakers do best.
  • By the way, if you see anything — anything — about LaVar Ball, Floyd Mayweather or Conor McGregor, don’t look at it. Just don’t look. Please.
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