The Los Angeles Dodgers placed Clayton Kershaw on the injured list ahead of his scheduled start Friday with inflammation in his right SI joint, which connects the base of the spine to the hip bones.
Kershaw had been scheduled to make his sixth start of the season from Dodger Stadium on Friday night opposite Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Kyle Gibson. Walker Buehler, who was on the normal four days' rest because of the Thursday off-day, started in Kershaw's place, allowing five runs on nine hits over five innings in a 12-10 loss.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Kershaw's back "locked up on him'' during their flight home from Pittsburgh on Wednesday. Kershaw said he had an epidural pain-relieving injection, but he won't play catch for at least a few days.
"I do believe it will be a brief stint on the IL," Roberts said. "Just looking at previous years of this, going through this similar situation, getting an epidural, and how his body responds to it."
The 34-year-old Kershaw was in the midst of another dominant season despite getting shut down before last year's postseason with soreness around his pitching elbow. He began 2022 with seven perfect innings against the Minnesota Twins and holds a 1.80 ERA through five starts, striking out 32 batters and walking three in 30 innings.
This represents the sixth consecutive year that Kershaw has landed on the IL, with most of the trips stemming from injuries in his back.
"He came back here to give us a chance to win the World Series this year," Roberts said. "So there's going to have to be some managing of workload. With his experiences and intelligence, he knows when to push and when not to push, and now is not that time."
Roberts said Julio Urias will move up to start Saturday against Philadelphia. Beginning Friday, Los Angeles has seven home games in six days, including a doubleheader Tuesday.
The Dodgers replaced Kershaw on the active roster with left-hander Garrett Cleavinger, who has a 5.40 ERA in two appearances for Los Angeles this season.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.