Clayton Kershaw is Already Out With a Bad Back, Don't Crown the Dodgers Yet

Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Angels v Los Angeles Dodgers
Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Angels v Los Angeles Dodgers / Norm Hall/Getty Images

Clayton Kershaw will open the season on the injured list as his balky back is already acting up. Despite a loaded offense and a newly locked-up Mookie Betts, we should probably hold off on crowning the Los Angeles Dodgers as 2020 World Series champs.

Let's be real, Kershaw isn't the Dodgers' ace anymore, that designation goes to 25-year-old Walker Buehler who has clearly surpassed him. But LA is thin beyond Buehler and Kershaw, especially after Hyun Jin-Ryu departed for the Toronto Blue Jays this offseason. Ryu went 14-5 with a 2.32 ERA in 2019. The rest of the rotation is largely unproven.

Dustin May will replace Kershaw on the roster and he has been a touted prospect for a while. May has good stuff but has yet to prove himself over the long haul in the big leagues.

The 23-year-old Julio Urias feels like he's been a ball of potential forever but he's never grabbed a rotation spot fully until this year. Like May, he's got great potential but hasn't consistently delivered in the bigs.

Alex Wood had a great season for the Dodgers in 2017, going 16-3 with a 2.72 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP, but hasn't been the same since. He'll get a chance to recapture that magic as a back-end of the rotation piece but, again, can you rely on him?

Meanwhile, Ross Stripling looks like the team's fifth starter and he's never found big-league consistency, thought he was solid in 2018, posting an 8-6 record with a 3.02 ERA.

There's potential in that rotation but Buehler is the only guy the Dodgers can count on every time he takes the mound. Kershaw has good when he's been healthy, but he hasn't topped 30 starts since 2015.

On paper, the Dodgers have all the pieces to make a World Series run, but the rotation and the bullpen will have to step up and prove themselves if they're going to actually do it.