Mark Prior attempts to calm Dodgers fans' concerns about Clayton Kershaw's shoulder

It's going to be fine...right?

Los Angeles Dodgers v Miami Marlins
Los Angeles Dodgers v Miami Marlins / Megan Briggs/GettyImages

Last week, when Clayton Kershaw was clearly compromised during a start against the Miami Marlins, Los Angeles Dodgers fans rightfully started to spiral. Between that, Julio Urías' arrest and the cracks showing in LA Lance Lynn's game, everyone was staring down the barrel of another early postseason exit.

Things haven't really gotten better, either. Bobby Miller, who's the last one standing in terms of health and relative consistency, allowed five earned runs across seven innings in Saturday's loss to the Nationals. Emmet Sheehan was shelled on Friday. Ryan Yarbrough only lasted four innings Sunday.

Kershaw was scheduled to start Monday against the San Diego Padres, but the Dodgers announced Sunday they would be skipping his outing and pushing him back to Friday against the Mariners instead. All that did was sound more alarms in regard to Kershaw's longevity for the remainder of 2023.

Last week, Kershaw saw diminished velocity as a result of his lingering shoulder issue. He was removed after 84 pitches through five innings, which is the most he's thrown (innings and pitches) since coming off the IL a month ago.

Though manager Dave Roberts said pushing Kershaw back wasn't injury related, it's hard for fans to believe that based on what they've witnessed ever since he went down in late June.

Mark Prior attempts to calm Dodgers fans' concerns about Clayton Kershaw's shoulder

But if you're looking for a silver lining, pitching coach Mark Prior attempted to calm everyone's nerves when discussing Kershaw's situation as well as his own experiences with a nagging shoulder issue. Prior's career was famously derailed by injuries, as he made only 106 starts and never appeared in MLB again after 2006 (though he played minor-league/independent ball through 2013).

Prior believes Kershaw's current struggles are a result of timing and mechanics and not necessarily the ailment that shelved him for six weeks. The injury obviously played a role in affecting his timing and mechanics, but there's an insistence the left-hander is not pitching hurt -- he's just still working his way back after a long layoff.

Here's what Prior told Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register (subscription required):

"There’s some stuff in the delivery that hopefully will free him up to maximize and get his timing back. I think so much of it is a timing situation. I think that’s where you get into a situation where guys who’ve had – whether it’s elbow or shoulder or anything, in the middle of a season you’re trying to come back and you do things because you feel fine but you just don’t know subconsciously what you might have tweaked to get back to that point."

Mark Prior, the OC Register

Maybe a couple of bullpens get Kershaw back on track. The Dodgers can afford to bide their time with him since they pretty much have the No. 2 seed in the NL locked up. It's more important they have Kershaw fully ready for a playoff series, because their current situation is looking grim even with the left-hander 100% healthy and pitching atop his game.