LOS ANGELES -- After posting a stretch on the mound in which he lasted at least six innings in seven of eight starts, Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw has fallen into a bit of a rut. Kershaw hasn't pitched more than 4 1/3 innings in three of his four August starts, and the Dodgers have lost all four games. To be fair, one of the losses can't be attributed to Kershaw. On Aug. 8, Kershaw held the Braves scoreless for seven innings, but Atlanta went on to win 2-1 in 10 innings.
But the idea that Kershaw's 21-year-old pitching arm is tiring could even be more problematic for the Dodgers' playoff hopes. Kershaw's up to 139 2/3 innings this season, and is on pace to exceed the 169 innings he logged between the Dodgers and Double-A Jacksonville in 2008 (107 2/3 with the Dodgers). Kershaw said after his start on Wednesday that he doesn't feel tired and that his arm feels fine. But either way, Kershaw's numbers have slipped since the calendar turned to August. Kershaw entered August with 120 2/3 innings on the season and has gone 0-2 with a 4.26 ERA in his four starts this month. Dodgers manager Joe Torre, however, takes a similar stance to his pitcher and doesn't feel that arm fatigue is an issue. "He's fine," Torre said before Thursday's game against the Cubs. "He threw hard yesterday, he warmed up well, threw strikes. He just couldn't put people away." For much of the season, the Dodgers have monitored Kerhsaw's innings and pitch count to make sure their ace in the making still is fresh come September. "There was a time we were talking about giving him an extra day here and an extra day there, or maybe skip a start," Torre said. "But we've run into a little bit of a problem by losing a starter. So I don't think we have that luxury at this point in time."
David Ely is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.