Although Clayton Kershaw was able to pitch the final month of the season and start Game 1 of the National League Division Series for the Los Angeles Dodgers, it was clear he was never fully healthy.
Kershaw suffered a left shoulder injury in June that forced him to miss more than a month before returning near the beginning of August. The Dodgers downplayed the injury, but it was affecting the southpaw’s command and velocity, which made Kershaw reinvent the way he pitched.
The future Hall of Famer then made only one postseason start, which turned out to be the worst outing of his career. It also was one of the worst in MLB playoff history.
As Kershaw and the Dodgers begin the offseason, the ailing shoulder may be the deciding factor for his future. According to Andy McCullough of The Athletic, Kershaw may have his injured shoulder examined:
He is considering undergoing an additional examination on his left shoulder, which he injured in late June.
Kershaw refused to use the injury as an excuse at any point, instead pointing to execution during his NLDS start.
“Yeah, I feel fine,” Kershaw said after the Game 1 loss. “I feel fine. I didn’t make enough good pitches. There’s nothing health-related. Just bad pitching.”
Kershaw has continued to decline talking about what his future might hold, reiterating a similar line each time he’s been asked about what he is thinking for the 2024 season.
“I’m not sure about that yet,” Kershaw said from Chase Field. “I’m not sure how it’s going to look.”
However, Kershaw did make one more notable statement when asked if he anticipates this offseason being different than previous ones.
“I think so,” he admitted. “Well, yeah, but I’m not going to get into it. We’ll see. I’m not sure. I don’t know how to answer that right now.”
Kershaw nor the Dodgers ever provided any specifics about the injury that affected his performance, but it may be the determining factor on his decision to continue pitching or retire.
After Kershaw underwent an MRI in July, Dr. Neal ElAttrache recommended more time of rest and recovery, which delayed his return from the IL.
Clayton Kershaw embarrassed by Game 1 start
Kershaw only recorded one out during his NLDS start while giving up six runs before he was replaced in the first inning by Emmet Sheehan.
With just 0.1 innings pitched, it represented the shortest start of the future Hall of Famer’s career.
“Just disappointing, embarrassing,” Kershaw said after the Dodgers’ blowout loss. “You feel like you left everybody down. Whole organization looks to you to pitch well in Game 1, and it’s just embarrassing really. I just feel like I let everybody down.
“It’s a tough way to start the postseason. Obviously, we still have a chance at this thing, but that wasn’t the way it should’ve started for me.”
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