The last time Clayton Kershaw turned in a performance similar to what was seen in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series he was soon after placed on the 15-day disabled list and diagnosed with a mild disc herniation.
While Kershaw wasn’t his usual self in the elimination loss to the Chicago Cubs, and presumably didn’t pitch at 100 percent health, back surgery isn’t considered likely. “He feels good. Talking to him after the game and [Monday], he feels good,” Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said.
“Like all of our guys, we have exit physicals and conversations with trainers and doctors. I’m sure that will take place and I don’t expect it to be anything that is newsworthy. He ended the year and felt good. … I don’t anticipate [back surgery] being necessary.”
Kershaw aggressively pushed along the recovery process, suffered a setback, and wound up missing 75 days. During his absence, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts at one point alluded to Kershaw potentially needing to undergo surgery.
That was misinterpreted and spun into reports of Kershaw absolutely requiring surgery. “I won’t mention ‘surgery’ and ‘Kershaw’ in the same sentence anymore,” Roberts quipped on Monday.
After coming off the 60-day DL in September, every start was viewed as a benchmark for the left-handed ace. Kershaw maintained his back was a non-issue after each of his 10 games (nine starts).
Kershaw did admit to adjusting his between-starts routine, and expects to further fine-tune his workout regimen during the offseason. Kershaw’s 21 starts were his lowest total since his rookie season (2008), and the 149 innings pitched was his least amount since 2009.
The DL stint this season was just the second of Kershaw’s career.