Found September 21, 2012 on MLB Injury News:

Baseball has a 162 game season for a reason.  Yet, we often forget that.  We get caught up in the excitement and story lines that catch our attention early in the year.  I'm a victim of this, you're a victim of this, and it's part of the magic of baseball.  Take the Los Angeles Dodgers, for instance.  They started the year out so hot, everyone thought they'd run away with the division.  The San Francisco Giants didn't seem to have the same pitching they had in years past with the ineffectiveness of Tim Lincecum, the Arizona Diamondbacks were battling injuries, and both the Colorado Rockies and San Diego Padres were horrid.

But things change.  A month and a half is far to small a sample size from which to draw conclusions.  The seemingly foregone conclusion that the Dodgers would win the National League West has fallen apart.  Injuries and poor play have plagued the team throughout the second half.  The Giants have been pitching better, including Lincecum (not to mention Matt Cain and his perfect game).  The Diamondbacks made things interesting for a while and have been competitive.  And the Padres have the best record in the NL West in the second half.  So the season wore on, the Dodgers fell out of first place, they made a blockbuster trade, they continued to struggle, and now they sit three games out of the Wild Card with 12 games eft to play.

They still have a shot.  They can still see the glimmering light of play-off hopes at the end of a dark tunnel.  But what will they do to reach the end of that tunnel?  Their reigning Cy Young award winning ace, Clayton Kershaw, has been battling a hip injury.  Doctors say he can pitch, but surgery was a real concern about a week ago.  With the heightened sense of protection teams have for their young pitchers, should the Dodgers rush Kershaw back in hopes of pushing them through the final week and a half of the season?

Kershaw is 12-9 with a 2.70 ERA in 30 starts this season.  He has been dominant.  So far this year, he has two complete game shut-outs, he's gone at least eight innings nine times, and he has 206 strikeouts. But he's been hurting.  He hasn't started since September 11th.  Before that, he missed a start for the same injury he's currently battling.  Since the start of September, Kershaw has made just two starts.  This is the stretch-run when teams need their pitchers the most.  However, the Dodgers and Kershaw have been cautious with this hip injury.

Kershaw began his throwing program again after a second-opinion confirmed he had a right hip impingement.  When he visited a specialist in New York, he was told he could continue pitching without causing further damage.  While earlier reports indicated that Kershaw would require surgery, that is not the case.  The Dodgers, though, have said that if he continues to experience pain when throwing, they won't allow him to pitch.

With 12 games left in the season, the decision can be questioned, but it's important to understand the overall impact Kershaw could even have.  With 12 games left in the season, he could start two, maybe three, games.  The Dodgers are facing a three-game deficit in the Wild Card, and they have two teams ahead of them that they will not play head-to-head for the rest of the year.  Even if Kershaw started two more games this year and threw no-hitters, the Dodgers would still need some help to make up the ground they face in chasing the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals.  The rest of the Dodgers' team has to perform.

Since May 2nd, after the Dodgers got off to that hot start, Los Angeles is just 13-12 in games started by Kershaw.  He gave up more than three runs just five times in those 25 starts, so he simply wasn't getting help from the Dodger bats.  With the lack of support he has received for the majority of the season, rushing Kershaw back to the mound doesn't guarantee a thing.

The Dodgers are doing the right thing in being cautious with Kershaw.  They were a decent team on paper leading up to the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline.  Then they became a really good team on paper after trading for Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, and Hanley Ramirez.  However, this club has woefully underperformed since May.  They have a lot of the pieces they will need to be a successful team for a long time, but they will need to take a step back during the offseason and reevaluate what happened this year.  What they will not need to reevaluate is Kershaw's importance to Los Angeles.

By ensuring Kershaw is able to pitch without pain, and by taking the necessary precautions to avoid further injury, the Dodgers are not throwing away a shot at the play-offs, they are ensuring the shot at the play-offs for many years to come.
Follow @mlbinjurynews

Dodgers are being cautious with Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw was back with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday, one day after meeting with a hip specialist in New York about his ailing right hip. But the left-hander isn't particularly close to being able to pitch -- the Dodgers are taking a cautious approach with their ace. Kershaw played catch off flat ground on Wednesday with first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, but the...

Dodgers' Kershaw making fast progress, may start Sunday

Clayton Kershaw may be closer to returning to the Los Angeles Dodgers than previously thought. The left-hander threw a bullpen session on Friday, the first step to getting him back into the starting rotation. The Dodgers have an open spot in their rotation Sunday against the Reds, with starter Aaron Harang expected to get the nod over Class AAA Pacific Coast League triple crown...

Clayton Kershaw Resumes Throwing; Return Unknown

Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw resumed his throwing program earlier this week, but manager Don Mattingly isn’t putting a timeframe on his ace’s potential return, reports Mike Fiammetta of "I just think he needs to be able to start doing everything he usually does without any pain at all," Mattingly said. "It's up to him...

Kershaw hit with fragment of shattered bat

WASHINGTON, D.C. Clayton Kershaw survived a minor scare in the first game of the Dodgers doubleheader against the Washington Nationals on Wednesday, as he was hit on the side of the head by a fragment of Hanley Ramirezs shattered bat. The incident occurred in the third inning, when Ramirez singled to right field. Kershaw was sitting in the Dodgers dugout. Kershaw, who is sidelined...

Aaron Harang starting on short rest probably seems like a bad idea because it is

Aaron Harang will likely start Sunday’s game against the Reds on short rest, according to Don Mattingly. It could be bad. That leaves Sunday’s slot open, and one day after saying right-hander John Ely — who has made only two appearances in the Major Leagues this season, both in relief — could start, Mattingly said right-hander Aaron Harang likely will go on short rest. Harang...

Clayton Kershaw Latest

Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw could potentially start tomorrow night against the Cincinnati Reds. This news coming after Kershaw saw hip specialist, Dr. Bryan Kelly, in New York on Tuesday this past week. Dr. Kelly diagnosed Kershaw with what is called a hip impingement. The injury not as serious as anticipated, allowing Kershaw to come back sooner and shouldn’t require...

Ryan Zimmerman’s rolling punch/tag of Adrian Gonzalez in the balls/taint was the play of the game

There’s no way around it, yesterday’s game was a mess, but besides somehow managing to win, the best highlight was probably Ryan Zimmerman tagging/punching Adrian Gonzalez in the balls/taint. Not only did it provide amusement, but it inexplicably led to the Dodgers getting the extra run needed to win the game without going to extras. See? Even Ryan Zimmermann regrets violating...

Almost 6 Bills.

I recently scored a sweet Chad Billingsley autograph numbered out of 58. I don't focus on my modest Bills' PC enough, as he's long been one of my favorite Dodgers and a really good pitcher.Numbered 47/58, all of Chad's signature made it onto the sticker, thankfully. $5.74 is a bargain, and it's a welcome addition. Hopefully Chad isn't down for too long with...

Kemp's single sends Dodgers over Reds in 10

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Matt Kemp's two-out single with the bases loaded in the 10th inning sent the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 3-1 victory Friday night that denied the Cincinnati Reds on their first chance to clinch the NL Central. The Dodgers won for only the fifth time in 15 games and moved two games behind St. Louis for the final NL wild card. They also trail Milwaukee by a half...

Dodgers 3, Reds 1(10)

Matt Kemp's two-out single with the bases loaded in the 10th inning sent the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 3-1 victory Friday night that denied the Cincinnati Reds on their first chance to clinch the NL Central. The Dodgers won for only the fifth time in 15 games and moved two games behind St. Louis for the final NL wild card. They also trail Milwaukee by a half-game in the wild...

Offense sputters as Matt Kemp and Dodgers edge out Reds in extras

This guy put the clinch on hold, for now A Cardinals loss to the Cubs earlier in the day meant that the Reds could clinch their second NL Central title in three seasons with a win over the visiting Dodgers on Friday. Unfortunately, the Reds (91-60) will have to wait at least one more day after suffering 3-1 defeat to LA (78-73) in extra innings. There wasn't much offense...

10 notes about the Dodgers series

The Reds (91-59) became the first team in Major League Baseball to clinch a playoff spot on Thursday when they completed a sweep over the Cubs. The win also trimmed their magic number to clinch the NL Central down to just two. And what better place and time to clinch it than at home at Great American Ball Park on the weekend? One team who may have something to say about the...

Allan Webster Excited to Pitch in Red Sox Organization, Brings Nasty Sinker With Him (Video)

Allan Webster was once a top prospect in the Dodgers organization. Now, he's one of the best in Boston's. Webster was acquired from Los Angeles on Aug. 25 when Boston traded away Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto to the Dodgers. He was 0-1 in two starts in Double-A since coming over, allowing eight runs over nine innings of work. Check out the video...

GIFs Of The Week: Best Web Gems & Blasts – Everth’s Spin, Kemp’s Throw, Hamilton’s Bomb

Everth Cabrera turned what is one of the most impressive looking double plays of the year. Matt Kemp‘s right labrum isn’t frayed. Manny Machado pump fakes a dude into oblivion. So yeah, somebody is gonna go on a spending spree for Josh Hamilton this winter. Roger Bernadina David Lough? Never heard of him, but an awesome catch. The fact that Nate McLouth is relevant for...
MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.