On the day he was supposed to make his sixth start of the season, Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw was instead placed on the injured list with right SI joint inflammation, the team announced.
The severity of Kershaw’s sacroiliac joint injury, or a potential timetable for his return, was not immediately disclosed.
Walker Buehler will start Friday’s game instead. He will be on normal four days’ rest.
Left-handed reliever Garrett Cleavinger was recalled in a corresponding move.
Kershaw’s injury halts what had been an encouraging start to his 15th MLB season. After re-signing with the Dodgers this offseason on a one-year contract, the 34-year-old was 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in five starts.
He had shown no signs of ailment prior before Friday’s announcement.
The SI joints are in the hip, where the lower spine and pelvis connect. When they become inflamed, they can cause lower back pain, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Without Kershaw, the Dodgers will have to find more starting pitching depth amid the busiest part of their schedule so far. The team is currently in a stretch of 31 games in 30 days, and has a doubleheader on Tuesday.
In addition to Buehler, the team’s current rotation also includes Julio Urías, Tony Gonsolin and Tyler Anderson. Prospect Ryan Pepiot made his MLB debut on Wednesday before being optioned Thursday, but is a candidate to come back and start one of Tuesday’s games, according to manager Dave Roberts.
Beyond that, however, the team is short on starting pitching options.
Mitch White is continuing to build strength after being on the COVID-19 list. Roberts said he was not going to be ready for Tuesday’s games.
David Price is also coming back from a COVID-19 absence, but would need more time to be stretched out as a starter. So far this year, he’d been in a one-inning bullpen role.
Andrew Heaney, who made two scoreless starts at the beginning of the season before going on the IL because of a shoulder injury, has resumed throwing but is still not close to a return.
Andre Jackson and Michael Grove are the only other starting pitchers on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster.
Jackson, 26, pitched three times for the Dodgers last season and has a 6.14 ERA in five starts with triple A Oklahoma City this year.
Grove, 25, is a former second-round pick who has never pitched above double A, though he has a 2.76 ERA in five starts at that level this year.
With Buehler pitching Friday, the team could slide up the rotation for the rest of the weekend. Urías and Gonsolin could pitch Saturday and Sunday, respectively, on four days rest.
However, the Dodgers will still be left with plenty of short-term holes to plug in the coming weeks.
Until the severity of Kershaw’s injury is revealed, there will be questions about the longer-term status of their rotation, especially if the future Hall of Fame left-hander misses any extended period of time.