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Clayton Kershaw injury marks uncertainty for MLB leading Dodgers

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All of Dodger nation held their collective breath when Clayton Kershaw left Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Braves with back tightness; now the team’s immediate future is in question.

Clayton Kershaw left Sunday’s game against the Braves in the second inning due to tightness in his lower back, and after being evaluated by the Los Angeles Dodgers’ medical staff will be out four to six weeks. L.A. has the best record in baseball and leads the National League by 10.5 games, but being without their ace raises questions for them.

This is not Kershaw’s first time missing games due to tightness in his back. He missed two months last season with a similar back injury, and it seems to be an issue that may plague him throughout his career. With that said the Dodgers should strongly consider making a trade before the July 31 deadline for some pitching insurance. Because L.A. has a sizable lead on the NL, chances are they’ll still win the division. But what matters for this Dodgers team is making a deep postseason run, and getting to the World Series will require them to sure up their pitching rotation.

L.A. is essentially in win-now mode, especially with how well they’re swinging their bats. Putting all their chips on Kershaw coming back in full form might be a mistake. The Dodgers have prospects and the salary flexibility to make a move for a pitcher, and a few names that have come up in trade rumors are  Yu Darvish, Justin Verlander and Sonny Gray.

L.A. showed interest in Darvish before Kershaw’s injury so current circumstances will certainly spark their interest again. Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com writes:

“The Dodgers view Darvish as an ideal fit for their rotation, sources say. He’s a No. 1 starter capable of easing the postseason burden on Kershaw, who has made National League Division Series starts on short rest in each of the last four years.”

Morosi also writes that Darvish’s availability and Kershaw’s timetable to return will affect the potential for a trade. If no trade makes sense between those two issues, Oakland’s Gray and Detroit’s Verlander are pitchers rumored to be on the trade block by their respective teams that L.A. could entertain.

No matter which call the Dodgers make, they don’t want to put too much pressure on Kershaw to perform when he gets back. Adding another pitcher to their rotation will allow them to ease him back to the game. As for their time without Kershaw, another starting-caliber pitcher makes sure L.A. doesn’t miss a beat in his absence. With the way the Dodgers have looked this season, anything short of a World Series berth will be heartbreaking for fans.

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