He came off the disabled list Thursday night and started after missing 21 games because of left bicep tendinitis. Kershaw pitched five innings and 62 pitches in a 2-1 loss at Dodger Stadium to the Philadelphia Phillies, but was taken out because his back tightened up, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said after the game.
Kershaw, who was on the disabled list for extended periods in 2016 and 2017 with lower back issues, did not travel to Denver with the team but stayed back in Los Angeles and will undergo an MRI exam. His fastball velocity was 88-90 mph against the Phillies at the outset but dipped to 86-88 mph in the fourth and fifth innings.
"The stuff started to back up, the fastball and slider and the curve," Roberts said. "Everything sort of ticked down a little for me. His back tightened up during that outing. That could've contributed to the lack of velocity."
Roberts said Kershaw, who allowed four hits, one walk and one run with five strikeouts and detests being removed from a start, did not lobby to stay in the game. Before the loss to the Phillies, the Dodgers announced that left-hander Alex Wood would be pushed back two days and start Sunday in the series finale against the Rockies. He has dealt with cramps in his left leg.
Roberts said Friday would be a bullpen game. The Dodgers haven't named their Friday starter, but Dennis Santana, who was recalled Wednesday from Triple-A Oklahoma City and is stretched out, is expected to pitch at some point Friday and make his major league debut. Santana threw 90 pitches in five innings in his last start May 24.
The Dodgers (25-30) are beginning a six-game road trip that will also take them to Pittsburgh and have a 12-13 record on the road.
The Rockies will try to win their third straight series at Coors Field as they wrap up their second-longest homestand of the season with three games against the Dodgers. The Rockies, who have a 10-game homestand in September, took two of three games from the Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Giants on the current homestand.
Left-hander Tyler Anderson (3-1, 4.72 ERA) will start for the Rockies on Friday. He received a no-decision in his last start Saturday againt the Reds, allowing three runs and six hits in five innings in Colorado's 6-5 loss.
It was the seventh no-decision in 11 starts for Anderson. The Rockies are 3-4 in those games.
Anderson has allowed 10 home runs in 55 1/3 innings and three homers in 11 1/3 innings in his past two outings. In seven career starts against the Dodgers, Anderson is 2-3, 4.30. Four of those starts have come at Coors Field, and in those games, Anderson is 2-2, 3.75.
The Dodgers, who took two of three games from the Rockies in Los Angeles from May 21-23, have won 10 of their past 14 games, a stretch that has enabled them to make up 4 1/2 games in the National League West standings. They are tied for third place with the Giants and trail the first-place Rockies by four games.
"I think you always expect the Dodgers to be there in the end," said Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, who is hitting .319 with a .996 OPS, 11 home runs and 34 RBIs. "They're always going to be tough. It is a good test. They beat us two out of three at their place. We play them (in a) three-game series. It'd be nice to beat them three games or two out of three. We need to win the series against them."