How should the Dodgers go about their season now with news that Clayton Kershaw might have to undergo back surgery for a herniated disk?
News came out yesterday that the Los Angeles Dodgers are going to shut down Clayton Kershaw indefinitely. The Dodgers ace pitcher hasn’t played in nearly a month after he was diagnosed with a mild disk herniation. According to reports, the injury was said to be so painful that Kershaw had to take epidurals for pain-relief. The question now is: how should the Dodgers go about their season now that their ace is out?
Clayton Kershaw's injury could be more serious than initially expected, not guaranteed to pitch again this year https://t.co/9Vg0A1Htje
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) July 20, 2016
Starting the Season Strong
To say that Clayton Kershaw is arguably the Dodger’s best player this year is an understatement. Ever since the 2011 season, the 28 year old has been at the forefront of the Dodger’s resurgence. This season, he made his sixth straight start on opening day and was instrumental in the Dodgers 15-0 win against the Padres. In addition to this, he set an MLB record for striking out at least 10 batters in six straight starts. His ERA this season? 1.79. How is that significant? Well, if you compare this to the 4.36 ERA of the other starters then you’ll realize just how crucial of a role he plays for this team.
— Maloy Moore (@maloym) July 11, 2016
Can the Dodgers Compete Long Term Without Clayton Kershaw?
Although they managed to get a respectable 11-6 record in his absence, the Dodgers know that are still going to need Clayton Kershaw. Right now they are 4.5 games behind the Giants in the NL West. Meanwhile, the Miami Marlins are surging and could soon overtake them in the Wild Card standings.
Clayton Kershaw has missed nearly a month and still leads the NL in WAR.
— Ted Berg (@OGTedBerg) July 20, 2016
Personally, I don’t think they’ll have a hard time competing. Then again, competing and winning are completely different things semantics-wise. Los Angeles has manpower issues when it comes to its pitchers. Yes, Hyun-Jin Ryu got back from shoulder surgery before the All-Star break. Thanks to elbow tendinitis though, he is again back in the Disability List. Aside from Ryu, Brett Anderson and Alex Wood are also still on the mend. Now, the Dodgers are just relying on Kenta Maeda, Bud Norris, Scott Kazmir, Julio Urias, and Brandon McCarthy. This squad actually has shown flashes of brilliance (Maeda) and is particularly hardy. However, I don’t think the Dodgers can realistically rely on them for the rest of the season.
Possible Insurance Moves
So what’s Dave Roberts and Dodgers management to do now then? Well, there have been numerous suggestions from pundits that they can compensate with an upgraded offense. Right now, it’s only Yasiel Puig and Joc Pederson who they can consistently rely on. Though not as threatening at the plate as before, Adrian Gonzalez is still serviceable. If there’s really a position that they need to upgrade, it would have to be left field. If they can get someone for Howie Kendrick then they just might increase their chances of making the post-season.
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) July 20, 2016
Another possible move that the Dodgers can make now would be to get Evan Longoria. The Rays are currently cleaning house and they might be looking to deal their third baseman. Longoria is having his best statistical season in years and his inclusion in the Dodgers lineup is a definite upgrade to the offense. Finally, the Dodgers can go after Carlos Gonzalez. He’s still under contract with the Rays but I’m pretty sure Los Angeles can do something about that.
What Will The Dodgers Be Giving Up?
Of course, these kinds of deals aren’t going to come free. Most likely, the Dodgers will have to give up Alex Verdugo and possibly Cody Bellinger just to get Longoria. And while most teams will want to get Urias, it’s unlikely that Roberts is going to risk their future to win now. If there was one pitcher that they might be willing to part ways with though, its probably going to be Grant Holmes.
— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) July 19, 2016
If the Dodgers play their cards right, then they can still survive without Clayton Kershaw. The team is still loaded with talent and youth. Yes, they’re probably going to not be as exciting without their ace but I bet that they can be competitive and still win games.