Clayton Kershaw Placed on 10-Day DL After Back Injury Diagnosed as Strain

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistJune 1, 2018

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw throws against the Philadelphia Phillies during the third inning of a baseball game, Thursday, May 31, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw is headed back to the disabled list after sustaining a back injury in his first game in nearly a month on Thursday night.

The team announced on Friday Kershaw has been placed on the 10-day disabled list due to a lower back strain, with right-hander Brock Stewart being called up from Triple-A to fill the roster spot.

Kershaw landed on the disabled list at the beginning of May due to biceps tendinitis. Thursday night's start against the Philadelphia Phillies was his first off the DL, but he lasted just 62 pitches and five innings.

"Beyond frustrating," Kershaw said after the game, via MLB.com's Glenn Rabney. "I felt like I was out of the woods. I was feeling good and then to have that crop up."

This latest injury is a troublesome sign for Los Angeles, as it marks the third straight year he has dealt with back problems. The left-hander missed more than a month in 2016 because of a mild herniated disc and another five weeks or so last season while managing to avoid surgery. 

Overall, Kershaw has not made it through a full season healthy since 2015.

The 30-year-old has put up solid numbers this season despite dealing with multiple injuries. In eight starts, he has posted a 2.76 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP while striking out 53 in 49 innings.

Of course, the three-time Cy Young award winner has had to deal with a heavy workload throughout the course of his career. Through the first 10 years of his career, he has topped the 200-inning plateau (including the postseason) seven times already.

The Dodgers cannot afford to be without their ace for too long, as they have already lost star shortstop Corey Seager for the season. After losing to the Houston Astros in seven games in the 2017 World Series, they have struggled out of the gate to a 26-30 record, putting them four games back in the National League West. 

Then again, the long-term health of Kershaw takes precedent. The former NL MVP can opt out of his contract after this season, although his injury concerns could lead to him opting in. Regardless of his decision, Los Angeles will want to keep the seven-time All-Star atop their rotation.