Posted on July 1, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
The Los Angeles Dodgers did not wait long after announcing Clayton Kershaw was heading to the DL to fill the void in their rotation. Thursday afternoon, the Dodgers announced that Kershaw had received an epidural shot in his back and was going on the DL. Shortly afterwards, the team announced a trade with the Atlanta Braves in which they acquired Bud Norris. Norris is expected to make his debut with the Dodgers Friday against the Colorado Rockies, a game Kershaw was originally scheduled to pitch.
A few hours after announcing that Kershaw was going on the DL, the Dodgers announced that their ace had undergone an MRI that revealed a herniated disk in his back. The team says that the condition is mild and will not require surgery. A timetable for his return has not been announced, but the Dodgers don’t appear to be as confident that Kershaw will return immediately after the all-star break as first hoped.
Manager Dave Roberts says Kershaw’s return will depend on how his body responds to the epidural. “I don’t know how it’s going to be. I’m hopeful, but I can’t say either way. In the coming days, we’ll know how he responds to that and that will give us more direction,” he explains. Merely putting Kershaw on the DL is a stark contrast to earlier in the week when the Dodgers did not appear too concerned with Kershaw’s back pain, which was described as an “off-and-on issue.”
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Reports indicate that multiple teams had expressed interest in acquiring Norris before the trade deadline, but the Dodgers acted fast to get him after learning Kershaw was going to the DL. Norris had a disastrous April with the Braves, but after a successful stint in the bullpen he was moved back into the rotation and has continued pitching well, posting a 2.08 ERA in the month of June.
“Bud’s been pitching well, I had him in San Diego for a bit and he’s really been throwing well,” Roberts said Thursday. “For [the Dodgers’ front office] to get us a guy who can go deep into games and get guys out was huge. We’re excited about it.”
Norris joins a rotation that is currently home to three rookies in Kenta Maeda, Brock Stewart, and 19-year old Julio Urias, as well as veteran Scott Kazmir, who has struggled with consistency this season. Maeda has been the only one in the group who has been reliable from start to start this season, so the Dodgers are hoping Norris can bring some consistency and stability to the rotation while Kershaw is out.
“Obviously, it takes a toll when you lose your No. 1 guy, especially Kershaw, who is a presence not only in the clubhouse, but out on the field,” said catcher Ysmani Grandal. “I feel like Bud Norris did a pretty good job against us. I feel like he can be an addition, not only as a starter, but once we get other guys back, maybe he can help us out of the ‘pen, too. But it’s always hard to lose your No. 1 guy.”
When someone other than Kershaw starts, the Dodgers are a sub-.500 team this season, which does not bode well for them while he’s on the DL. Los Angeles is currently holding onto the first wild card spot in the National League, but retaining that spot could be difficult without Kershaw, especially if he’s forced to miss an extended period of time, something the Dodgers can’t be sure about right now.