Dodgers sunk if Clayton Kershaw is done

By Matt Verderame

The Los Angeles Dodgers won on Tuesday night, beating the Washington Nationals 8-4. With the San Francisco Giants in the midst of a four-game losing streak, the Dodgers have pulled to within 4.5 games of the lead in the National League West.

Yet, Tuesday was a terrible day for the Dodgers. Los Angeles announced that ace Clayton Kershaw has sustained a setback and will be shutdown in his bid to get back on the mound, dealing with a back injury. If Kershaw can’t regain his form in 2016 and we have seen him throw his final pitch until spring training next year, Los Angeles can kiss this season goodbye. Per ESPN:

“Clayton, after he threw that live session, the next day Sunday didn’t feel great,” manager Dave Roberts said before Tuesday’s series opener against the Nationals. “I think that at that point and time he let us know that we had to be a little more on the cautious side.

“I don’t know if it’s a step back, but we’re going to let the back pain subside and see where we go. So as far as his return … uncertain.”

It’s a drastic statement to make about a team currently in position to host the NL Wild Card game, but facts are facts. Kershaw is the heart and soul of the Dodgers, let alone their best player and pitcher by a country mile. Without him, Los Angeles would be trotting out Kenta Maeda and a bunch of nonsense into the postseason. Even if the Dodgers were to get there, it would be a quick trip in the pitching-rich National League.

The Dodgers are in a position where they have no choice but to try and win. The city of Los Angeles has no time for losers and the team is good enough that tearing it down would be talked about as sacrilege, even if it is the right move to make for the long-term success of the club. This is a very old team with guys like Chase Utley, Howie Kendrick, Scott Kazmir, Andre Ethier and Adrian Gonzalez playing big parts in the success. At some point the bottom will fall out on this roster, and when it does, it will leave a bunch of big, immovable contracts.

Should Kershaw be out for the year, the Dodgers will have a tough time holding onto a playoff spot. They are currently sitting one game ahead of the Miami Marlins and two in front of the New York Mets. Without their ace, it would be a tall order to beat out either challenger from the East.

Things have been holding up for the Dodgers to this point. Without Kershaw, that won’t last very long.