MLB Playoffs 2020 – What Clayton Kershaw’s Back Injury Means For Los Angeles Dodgers In NLCS Game 2 And Beyond


Just hours before Clayton Kershaw took over in Game 2 of the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves, the Los Angeles Dodgers announced the southpaw would not be leaving due to back spasms and rookie Tony Gonsolin would take his place.

What does the injury mean for Kershaw, the Dodgers and the rest of the 2020 MLB playoffs? When might we see the LA ace on the mound again? And who is Gonsolin, and what should fans expect from Kershaw’s Game 2 replacement? We asked ESPN MLB experts Alden Gonzalez, Bradford Doolittle and David Schoenfield to step in.

What does this mean for the Dodgers in Game 2?

Alden Gonzalez: That means Gonsolin will start, and that’s a very good option for a team that remains struggling. Gonsolin was among the top rookies in a crowded field for the National League Rookie of the Year award, posting a 2.31 ERA with 46 strikeouts and just seven steps in 46 innings. Gonsolin has completed at least six innings in four of his eight starts, and the Dodgers will need something similar in Game 2, the second of seven games in seven days. They need to keep their highly leveraged lifters as fresh as possible, especially if Kenley Jansen is no longer in that group.

David Schoenfield: The only concern here is that Gonsolin reportedly pitched four or five innings of a simulation game on Saturday in preparation for a start later in this series, so in a sense he’s working on a short rest. I wouldn’t expect him to go particularly deep in this game, especially with the Dodgers carrying 15 pitchers. Despite the performance in the ninth inning on Monday, the Dodgers to do have a good, deep bullpen. Brusdar Graterol and Victor Gonzalez came out of two big jams in Game 1 and will likely have to play a huge role in Game 2. Then Dave Roberts just has to figure out who throws the ninth inning.

Bradford Doolittle: You have to worry about the domino effect with the LA relief pen after the turmoil in Game 1. Can Roberts afford to continue to mix Julio Urias and Dustin May as super-relievers? If he doesn’t, does that mean he has to dive into a layer of his enclosure that he would rather avoid in places with medium to high leverage? The Dodgers have covered themselves to some extent for this by carrying 15 pitchers on their NLCS roster, although the decision to do so is likely more driven by concerns about Walker Buehler’s blisters than Kershaw’s back. Still, having that many pitchers doesn’t help in the playoffs if you’re not comfortable rolling them out in tight, tense plays, which is pretty much all we’re getting this time of year. .

What does that mean for the Dodgers the rest of this playoff?

Gonzalez: Assuming Kershaw isn’t ready in a few days – and keep in mind that he was when previous issues derailed his opening day start earlier this year – it’s assumed here that Urias will participate. in Game 3 and that the Dodgers will organize an enclosure. day in Game 4. After that it gets tricky, especially with May being used against eight hitters in Game 1. If May isn’t needed in any of those next three days, he can provide the load of. work of a starter – or close to it – – in set 5. If it is necessary before that, it becomes tricky. Buehler at rest, even if he is continually dealing with blisters? Alex Wood, who hasn’t necessarily been trusted for a while and who may not be very long? It is complicated.

Doolittle: In addition to the above points, the double aspect of timing is that it removes the possibility of Kershaw participating in a potential 7 game at normal rest. If the spasms went away quickly and Kershaw was able to start in Game 3, then it’s theoretically possible that he could go into Game 7 with a short rest. It’s far from ideal for him at this point in his career. The last time we saw the Dodgers try him out with Kershaw was when he was in the 2018 World Series opener against the Red Sox, three days after pitching two innings of relief in the NLCS clincher on Milwaukee. . Boston bombed it.

Schoenfield: Yeah, the unknown here is what the Dodgers’ plans were with May entering the series. Remember, Roberts used him as an opener in the Padres series, causing him to pitch a single inning, with Urias entering as the loose guy. But it was a shorter series. Should May be an integral part of the pen in this series? Was he going to pitch in Game 1 and then be the starter in Game 5? Kershaw’s health unknown obscures plans for May and could force him back into the rotation. And Wood seems like the last guy you’d trust right now – in his last five regular-season appearances, he’s allowed eight runs and 12 hits in 6th innings.


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