Clayton Kershaw left his most recent regular season start due to recurring forearm discomfort. The Dodgers star has suffered no UCL injury and will not require surgery, manager Dave Roberts told reporters (including Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times). Nevertheless, the three-time Cy Young award winner is not expected to return this postseason.
The news comes as something of a mixed bag. On the one hand, it certainly looked ominous as Kershaw left his final start of the year with forearm discomfort, not long after returning from an absence of more than two months due to the same problem. It’s certainly a relief that Kershaw doesn’t have to go under the knife despite that recurring problem.
Nevertheless, he will no doubt be disappointed not to be able to return to help the Dodgers repeat the World Series winners. It is possible that Kershaw would not have pitched in the postseason, even if he was healthy. Max Scherzer would get the ball anyway in Wednesday night’s wildcard game, and the Dodgers’ title defense could end with that lone game. But a longer playoff run would certainly have seen a healthy Kershaw rack up some important innings, and that will no longer be the case.
It’s also particularly unfortunate timing for Kershaw personally. The 33-year-old is slated to hit the open market this winter. If he is healthy, Kershaw has been excellent again. In 121 2/3 innings, the former MVP worked to a 3.55 ERA, while striking out a strong 29.5% of batters and walking with a clip of only 4.3%. Kershaw’s speed has steadily tapped down in recent seasons, but he has nevertheless been one of the game’s most effective pitchers year after year. He has tended to be one of the best starters available in free agency this off-season, but his recent health issues will be key in that evaluation for teams.
The Dodgers also gave an update on Max Muncy, who injured his elbow in a collision at first base on Sunday during the regular season finale. Muncy told reporters (including Juan Toribio from MLB.com) he sustained a dislocated elbow and some structural damage. Luckily for Muncy and the Dodgers, he doesn’t need a surgical repair. Roberts didn’t rule out Muncy’s return at some point this postseason (toribio link).