Clayton Kershaw and Brian Wilson hurting, but don’t fret too much

kershaw_clayton_ST 3.15.14
Ouch, my teres major. (By: Dustin Nosler)

The Dodgers are picking up where they left off last year — with the wins and the injuries. Are you worried yet? If you are, don’t be.

The Dodgers placed Brian Wilson on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday with nerve irritation in his surgically repaired right elbow. Wilson infamously gave up three runs on Sunday night and failed to record an out on the way to a 3-1 loss to the Padres.

It wasn’t the end of the world, but it ended Wilson’s next (at least) two weeks. Wilson looked fine (better than fine, actually) in Australia, but he looked a little “off” on Sunday, as his velocity was down and he wasn’t locating his pitches. Turns out, there was a reason for it.

There’s no timetable for his return, but I’m guessing he’ll be out longer than the 15 days. Luckily, the Dodgers’ already strong bullpen shouldn’t suffer too much, especially if they recall a guy like Jose Dominguez, Yimi Garcia or Red Patterson. It’ll also mean an increased workload for J.P. Howell, Chris Perez and Jamey Wright.

The more troubling news from Wednesday is regarding Clayton Kershaw.

While that may seem like bad news (and it isn’t exactly good news), it isn’t as bad as it seems.

Kershaw has been on the disabled list since March 23, after his Australia start. He’s suffering from a muscle issue in his upper back. It’s near his shoulder, but the injury isn’t impacting his shoulder that much. There’s no structural damage, so that’s a good thing. It’s mostly inflammation, and the Dodgers need to take it slow with Kershaw, and that’s something the Dodgers can afford to do.

The Dodgers — unlike most MLB teams — have this luxury. Everyone moves up a spot, meaning Zack Greinke is the No. 1, Hyun-Jin Ryu the No. 2 and so on. Most teams would love to have Greinke and Ryu as their 1-2 punch, but the Dodgers have the luxury of having them in the 2-3 spots.

Kershaw’s injury could also lead to Zach Lee being recalled sooner than most expected. But Dan Haren, Josh Beckett and Paul Maholm will round out the rotation until Kershaw is healthy.

And that’s the key — Kershaw needs to sit until he’s 100 percent. Period. There is absolutely no reason for him to rush back. Remember Matt Kemp (who could be in the lineup on Friday)? He had basically a lost 2013 season because he tried to come back to soon from his injuries. Granted, this is the first time Kershaw has been on the DL and, knowing his competitiveness, he’ll want to be back as soon as is humanly possible. But the Dodgers’ somewhat maligned medical staff needs to tread carefully with the franchise pitcher.

If Lee doesn’t come up, a guy like Stephen Fife or Matt Magill — both already on the 40-man roster — could get the call. If Kershaw is indeed out until June and Chad Billingsley is 100 percent recovered from Tommy John surgery, maybe he gets the call.

Pitching depth is a beautiful thing. The Dodgers had some of this depth last year, but it feels like a better situation this year.

So, back away from the ledge, Dodger fans. It’s going to be OK.

About Dustin Nosler

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Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosted a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He was a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times and True Blue LA. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.