Clayton Kershaw left his most recent regular season start on account of recurring forearm discomfort. The Dodgers star did not suffer any UCL damage 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 seemed ominous when Kershaw left his final start of the year with forearm discomfort, not long after returning from a two-plus month absence due to the same issue. It’s certainly a relief that in spite of that recurring problem, Kershaw won’t need to go under the knife.
That said, he’ll no doubt be disappointed he’s not able to return to help the Dodgers’ efforts to repeat as World Series winners. It’s possible Kershaw wouldn’t have pitched in the postseason even were he healthy. Max Scherzer was likely to get the ball in tomorrow evening’s Wild Card game anyhow, and the Dodgers’ title defense could end with that lone contest. But a lengthier playoff run would surely have seen a healthy Kershaw logging some important innings, and that’ll 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. When healthy, Kershaw has again been excellent. Over 121 2/3 innings, the former MVP worked to a 3.55 ERA while striking out a strong 29.5% of batters faced and issuing walks at just a 4.3% clip. Kershaw’s velocity has steadily ticked downwards in recent seasons, but he’s nevertheless been among the game’s most effective pitchers year in and year out. He was trending towards being one of the top starters available in free agency this offseason, but his recent health woes will throw a wrench in that evaluation for teams.
The Dodgers also provided an update on Max Muncy, who injured his elbow in a collision at first base during Sunday’s regular season finale. Muncy told reporters (including Juan Toribio of MLB.com) he suffered a dislocated elbow and some structural damage. Fortunately, he won’t require surgical repair. Roberts didn’t rule out the possibility of Muncy returning at some point this postseason (Toribio link).