Dodgers in deep trouble?

The Dodgers have Clayton Kershaw on the DL. Are they in trouble?

by Brandon Karsten

The Los Angeles Dodgers were a great story to follow last year. They got off to a bad start and were well below the .500 mark in late May. Then, all of a sudden, manager Don Mattingly went from being in the hot seat to having his name thrown into the race for NL Manager of the Year.

How did that happen so quickly? Thanks to a player, Yasiel Puig, who, like the team itself, seemingly came out of nowhere…  a beat-up team regained its health. However, injuries to key players in the early going this year threaten to stall the momentum the Dodgers picked up in 2013.

The Dodgers came into the season boasting a solid starting rotation, with reigning NL Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw as the centerpiece of the staff.  Former Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Dan Haren were set to follow him in the rotation. However, the Bums’ starting rotation suffered a setback when Kershaw was scratched from the home opener versus San Diego, and he ultimately landed on the disabled list due to strained muscle in his upper back.1

Kershaw joined fellow starters Josh Beckett and Chad Billingsley on the sidelines,  but is expected to rehab for about two or three weeks and team doctors expect him to be out until May.2 Billingsley is still recovering from the Tommy John surgery he underwent last yea,r while Beckett went down with a thumb sprain. Since he was in Arizona recovering from a strained calf muscle, Greinke didn’t make the opening series trip to Australia.  But, he pitched effectively in his first start of the year, with five innings of two-run ball against the San Diego Padres on Tuesday.

Another injury the Dodgers have to deal with is to right-handed reliever Brian Wilson. Wilson was acquired by the Dodgers in the middle of the 2013 season in order to bolster the bullpen down the stretch. He has undergone two Tommy John surgeries in his career and is looking at time on the on the disabled list with nerve irritation in his right elbow. Wilson was placed on the 15-day DL and is expected to throw some innings in minor league games.3

Matt Kemp was on and off the DL most of last year and played in only 73 games in 2013. He was still recovering from shoulder surgery to start the 2013 campaign. He then re-injured his surgically repaired shoulder in early July and didn’t return to the big league club until mid-September, only to see limited action again with soreness in his ankle that caused him to miss the playoffs.4 After spending most of spring training recovering and missing the Australian Opening Series, Kemp was back in time for last Friday’s home opener.

As of this writing, the Dodgers are more than staying afloat with a 6-3 record. Once they get their injured players back,they should become a powerhouse in the National League.

1 – mlb.com

2 – sportsillustrated.com

3 – mlb.com

4 – usatoday.com

 

Brandon Karsten is a contributor to Designated Four Assignment. He can be found on Facebook or contacted by email at bkarsten2009@hotmail.com.

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