Clayton Kershaw injury: Ace's extended DL stint no big deal for Dodgers

Cameron Spencer

Worried about how the Dodgers will fare without their No. 1 starter? Cut it out.

Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw will miss more time than initially expected, according to True Blue LA's Eric Stephen.

The 26-year-old southpaw is eligible to return from the disabled list on April 8 but won't be ready by then. Instead, he'll undergo a rehab program for two to three weeks before being re-evaluated.

An early season back injury probably isn't what the Dodgers envisioned for Kershaw, who received a contract extension this offseason that will pay him more than $30 million per season starting in 2015. However, if there's a team in baseball that can overcome the absence of a two-time Cy Young winner who had yet to be born when "Full House" began airing, it's the Dodgers.

In case you haven't noticed, runs are down across baseball and pitching has emerged to the forefront. And even without Kershaw, the Dodgers have a lot of it. Los Angeles is one of the few teams in baseball with more than one legitimate ace. Zack Greinke is good enough to keep the team from sustained losing streaks by himself, and Hyun-jin Ryu would be a No. 1 or No. 2 for most other teams in baseball. Meanwhile, within their own division, the Dodgers have a pair of opponents who don't have any sort of ace and are dealing with injury issues (Rockies, Padres) and another whose top pitcher from a year ago is out for the season (Diamondbacks).

That leaves the Giants. Assuming Matt Cain bounces back, they have a pair of starters who can compete with the top two for the Kershaw-less Dodgers. The Giants' lineup is decent, too, so the Dodgers will have to watch over their shoulders.

But only for a little while. Kershaw isn't going to be gone forever. And, even if Los Angeles finds itself in a bit of a hole while he's gone -- although, again, chances are it won't be buried too far underneath anyone not wearing orange -- we're talking about a team that made up a 9½-game deficit in a one-month period as part of a 52-13 stretch between late June and early September last year.

That's what a combination of a great pitching staff and one of the top lineups in the National League can do. As if having to face Kershaw, Greinke, Ryu and company isn't hard enough, opposing teams have the displeasure of dealing with Yasiel Puig, Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Kemp (when healthy), Andre Ethier and a host of others at the plate.

And I still haven't even mentioned the money. Oh, the money. As the Dodgers showed midway through the 2012 campaign, they have no reservations of taking on big contracts in trades. If the team needs an extra boost later this season as a result of their ace missing some time early, there are very few players in the game who could possibly be available that the Dodgers won't have the ability to obtain. That's because, in addition to the large amount of funds available, Los Angeles also has a pretty good farm system that contains the kind of pieces other teams seek in potential blockbuster deals.

So, don't be too concerned about the Dodgers and their missing star. Before you know it, they'll have a firm grasp on first place in the NL West and will only have to worry about overcoming their postseason woes. At that point, it can be revisited as to whether or not we should let Los Angeles have mercy.

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