I heard last night, briefly, that Clayton Kershaw had left his start with some kind of discomfort, but the natural ebb and flow of bedtime, kids, weekend, whatever, had left me without a chance to really look at what the story was until this afternoon. I didn’t realize it was potentially so serious.
To set the stage, you had Kershaw, only a few starts back from a 10-week absence for elbow inflammation, wincing periodically throughout his short appearance. Apparently the thinking at the time was that maybe he was just frustrated about not getting certain calls, but instead it was because he was feeling more elbow/forearm discomfort.
The decision was made to pull him in the second inning:
After the game, it did not sound good from Kershaw: “It just got bad enough to where I couldn’t keep going tonight. I’ll get it looked at again, obviously, in the next couple days. Haven’t quite wrapped my head around all that yet. The biggest thing was I just wanted to be part of this team going through October. This team is special. You saw tonight. … I’ve known that. I know that we’re gonna do something special this year, and I wanted to be a part of that. That’s the hardest part for me right now is just knowing that chances are it’s not looking great for October right now.”
Kershaw, for all his regular season successes, has just the one kinda-sorta-fake-ish championship from last year to his name. I’m sure he wanted a chance to run through the postseason again with this crew. Even if the injury isn’t long-term, it’s going to be long enough to keep him out for a while.
But what if it is a long-term injury? The 33-year-old lefty is headed toward free agency, but what happens if he needs surgery? Again, I didn’t even realize that was a question last night until I read it this afternoon in The Athletic. The whole thing is a discussion about whether this was *THE END* for Kershaw:
For 10 years, Clayton Kershaw ran a race against time to win a title. Time may have run out on him on Friday. It doesn’t matter. He already won the race. https://t.co/QzawHvg9zq
— Andy McCullough (@ByMcCullough) October 2, 2021
There’s even a specific discussion about what happens if Kershaw needs Tommy John surgery:
Kershaw is 33. The rehabilitation for elbow reconstruction lasts 12 to 15 months. If he requires surgery, he would miss the entirety of 2022. He wouldn’t throw another big-league pitch until after he celebrates his 35th birthday. He will be a free agent this winter. He has grappled, with more and more transparency, about his desire to spend time with his wife and their three children in the suburbs of Dallas. If he doesn’t come back, could anyone blame him? If the Dodgers prefer to invest their dollars in a reunion with Max Scherzer, would anyone be surprised?
It’s just wild that we’ve started having that discussion so quickly (what does McCullough know?), but then again, it’s always been a modest question about how much longer Clayton Kershaw would pitch. There has been talk about him hanging ’em up relatively early for a long time, and he did get at least the one ring last year. Either way, it’s still impossible to see him pitching for another team.
I guess we’ll see what happens? The end of the Kershaw Era is apparently now something on our radars. Peak Kershaw was about as good as it gets, and while he hasn’t been that guy for a good long while now, it’ll still be very weird – and kinda sad – when he hangs ’em up.