While the 2014 season was a dominant one that went down in the record books for Clayton Kershaw, as he won National League MVP and a second consecutive Cy Young Award, it also marked the first time in his career he was placed on the disabled list.
After starting for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first game of the season in Australia, Kershaw was expected to take the ball in the stateside opener one week later but instead was put on the DL with a teres major strain.
While it was a jarring reality, the disabled list has become a new reality for Kershaw in each of the past three seasons. His back began to betray him and this season Kershaw also dealt with biceps tendinitis.
The string of injuries casted some doubt on the likelihood of Kershaw opting out of the two years and $65 million remaining on his contract. He wound up signing a three-year, $93 million extension with the Dodgers, avoiding free agency for a second time.
In addition with looking to silence critics after what was a down year by his standards, Kershaw is also focused on avoiding the disabled list, per Jorge Castillo of the L.A. Times:
“No more DL time,” Kershaw said. “I’m really going to set my sights on that. Then, from there, hopefully the getting people out will take care of itself.”
Kershaw missed more than two months in 2016 because of a herniated disc in his back, then missed five weeks in 2017 due to a back strain. Kershaw was placed on the disabled list this season in May with the biceps issue, then was removed from his first start back and landed on the DL again due to a back strain. The injuries forced him to miss a combined seven weeks.
Dating back to his first DL stint, Kershaw has nonetheless averaged 26.8 starts over the past five seasons. He made just 21 starts in 2016, which tied a career low that was set as a rookie in 2008.