Clayton Kershaw injury: The Dodgers lefty is on the injured list with lower back pain.

Lt. Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers has been placed on the injured list with lower back pain. The club announced on Friday.. In the same move, the Dodgers have activated infielder/outfielder Chris Taylor from IL.

Kershaw sat out Thursday afternoon’s start against the San Francisco Giants with lower back strain. Kershaw allowed two runs in four innings before exiting after throwing a few warm-up pitches before the fifth.

An NBC Sports Bay Area broadcast appeared to capture Kershaw telling a trainer “that’s my back” as he walked off the field. Here is the video:

Kershaw, 34, has a history of back pain. He missed 41 days with back inflammation in 2014, 74 days with a herniated disc in 2016 and 39 days with a back strain in 2017. Kershaw also spent brief periods on the injured list in 2018 and 2020 with back problems. Last season, a flexor injury cost him much of the second half and the postseason, and he missed time earlier this year with a hip injury.

The Dodgers didn’t add a starting pitcher at the trade deadline, and in fact they traded for a piece of rotation depth in Mitch White. He started 10 games earlier this season and four last season, and was dealt to the Toronto Blue Jays. The club’s rotation depth chart currently looks something like this:

  1. RHP Walker Buehler (out since June 10 with arm injury, could return in September);
  2. LHP Clayton Kershaw (out with injury in Thursday’s start)
  3. LHP Julio Urias
  4. RHP Tony Gonsolin (23 1/3 innings shy of previous career high)
  5. LHP Tyler Anderson
  6. LHP Andrew Heaney (healthy now, but limited to five starts so far this year with shoulder strain)
  7. RHP Ryan Pepiot (9 2/3 innings shy of previous career high)

Losing Kershaw for any length of time is a significant blow, although Los Angeles came into Thursday with a comfortable 11 1/2-game lead in the NL West, so they have given themselves a cushion. Given his history of back problems, the Dodgers are expected to be conservative with Kershaw’s rehabilitation and rehab work to avoid a setback.

Nothing has been found yet, but a big division lead gives the Dodgers some breathing room. Their priority is making sure the rotation is on top in October, not chasing every win in August and September. They’ll do what they have to to get through games over the next two months, without overworking their expected postseason starters, even if Kershaw is sidelined.

Heading into Thursday, Kershaw owned a 2.66 ERA this year with 84 strikeouts in 14 starts and 81 1/3 innings. He was an All-Star for the ninth time. Kershaw signed a one-year, $17 million deal this past offseason and seems to be going year-to-year at this point in his career.