The Los Angeles Dodgers will be without two of their best players when they host the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Wild Card Game on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium.
For most, it was obvious that the Dodgers would be without Future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw when he left the game in the second inning with a left elbow injury during his final start of the regular season last Friday. Kershaw himself said as much in his postgame interview after the game.
“It’s not looking great for October right now,” admitted Kershaw at the time.
The three-time Cy Young Award winner and former 2014 NL MVP underwent further testing on his elbow in Los Angeles on Monday, and the news was good.
Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts revealed on Tuesday that Kershaw did not suffer a torn ulnar collateral ligament and would not need Tommy John surgery. With rest and recuperation, Kershaw is expected to return to full strength for the start of next season, but he won’t pitch in the postseason this year.
Another player the Dodgers will be without for the majority of the postseason is home run leader Max Muncy.
Muncy injured his left elbow in a collision at first base during the final game of the regular season on Sunday.
“I’ve replayed it too many times in my head. The noise, I heard my elbow popping,” said Muncy of the collision with Brewers’ Jace Peterson. “I don’t have a lot of good memories for what should have been a great day, but unfortunately for me it wasn’t.”
Muncy said he dislocated his elbow in the collision and that it popped back into place while he was writhing on the infield in pain.
“There’s some other damage in there, and we’ll know more in the next couple days about that,” he said. “It was a very scary moment. It definitely felt like my arm wasn’t there.”
Muncy said he and the team are “holding out hope,” that he will be able to return to the team at some point in the postseason, but admittedly, it’s a long shot right now.
Roberts already ruled out Muncy for the Wild Card and NLDS should the Dodgers advance that far.
“I have to be hopeful,” said Muncy of the realistic possibility he could return at some point this postseason. “If I’m not hopeful, It’s going to be a rough couple weeks for me.”
Muncy is batting .249 with 36 homers and 94 RBI this season. He is signed through the 2022 season.
Kershaw is a free agent at the end of the season, and could have pitched in his last game with the Dodgers. He finished the 2021 season with a record of 10-8 with a 3.55 ERA and 1.019 WHIP. All his numbers were down compared to his career averages, and Kershaw missed over two months of the season with a similar injury.
Without Kershaw, the Dodgers will ride Max Scherzer, Walker Buehler, and Julio Urias in the postseason. Scherzer will square off with 40-year-old right-hander Adam Wainwright in the NL Wild Card game on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium in a winner-take-all matchup.
The last time the Dodgers won a winner-take-all elimination game at Dodger Stadium was Game 7 of the 1988 National League Championship Series against the New York Mets.