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Tyler Glasnow goes on injured list, adding to Dodgers’ starting pitching issues

Dodgers pitcher Tyler Glasnow stretches out and throws from the mound
Dodgers pitcher Tyler Glasnow stretches out and throws from the mound during a game against the Angels on June 27 at Dodger Stadium.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
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After learning he’d earned his first career All-Star selection Sunday, Tyler Glasnow highlighted one accomplishment from the first half of his season above all else.

Through the season’s first three months, the Dodgers’ ace had made all 18 of his starts atop the team’s rotation.

After years of repeated injury woes, Glasnow’s team-leading 109 innings represented his longest stretch of prolonged health as a big leaguer.

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“[I’ve been] just trying to post up every start and log innings,” said Glasnow, who was 8-5 with a 3.47 ERA. “I’m just glad I was able to make every start.”

Barely 48 hours later, that streak of good health came to an abrupt end.

The Dodgers put Glasnow on the injured list Tuesday afternoon because of back tightness, after the pitcher’s back flared up on him while playing catch Sunday, according to manager Dave Roberts.

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Roberts emphasized that the initial diagnosis for Glasnow is not serious.

He said the right-hander should be back with the team shortly after next week’s All-Star break. Roberts said had the break not been on the horizon, there “might have been a thought to see” if Glasnow could still make his next start this week.

Most of all, Roberts noted, with Glasnow already nearing his previous career high of 120 innings in a season, the team had been considering ways to give him some sort of break during the second half of the season, anyway.

“We obviously were thinking about that, with no real idea when it might or might not happen,” Roberts acknowledged. “But with the back flare-up, we just felt this is as good of a time as any.”

That’s the glass-half-full perspective on Glasnow’s injury — one the team hopes will be a short-term setback for the 30-year-old pitcher, and not one that will force the Dodgers to recalculate their roster needs ahead of the July 30 trade deadline.

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But it also comes amid a string of other injuries for the rotation, which is already without Yoshinobu Yamamoto (rotator cuff strain), Walker Buehler (hip inflammation amid his struggles returning from Tommy John surgery) and Clayton Kershaw (who will resume his minor league rehabilitation assignment Saturday with triple-A Oklahoma City).

The Dodgers are expecting all of those pitchers to return during the second half of the season.

They also have Gavin Stone, the rookie right-hander who has statistically been the team’s best pitcher this season with a 9-2 record and 3.03 ERA. Roberts vouched for Stone to replace Glasnow on the National League All-Star roster.

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Yet given Glasnow’s history of injuries — including years of elbow troubles that eventually led to Tommy John surgery, as well as an oblique strain that sidelined him for parts of last year — any setback will come with a level of frustration and concern.

“It’s certainly not ideal,” Roberts conceded. “But my job is to keep this thing moving forward.”

Roberts tried to focus on the potential benefits Glasnow’s break could provide in the long run.

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Though the Dodgers hadn’t decided if, or precisely when, the pitcher would be shut down to manage his innings total, the organization was leaning toward some sort of pause in his season to ensure that he didn’t surpass last year’s 120-inning workload by much leading into the playoffs.

“I don’t know if blessing in disguise is the right term [for this],” Roberts said, “but it does give him a little reset.”

The injury also comes on the heels of Glasnow’s worst stretch this season. In each of his last two starts, Glasnow had given up five runs and walked multiple batters. While there were no outward signs of fatigue in his fastball velocity, breaking ball shape or even arm speed, Roberts said, poorly executed pitches had become more common.

Those struggles didn’t impact the Dodgers’ decision to put Glasnow on the IL, Roberts said.

He will now have time to not only let his back heal, but also refine his delivery before returning for the stretch run of the season.

“Butting up to the All-Star break,” Roberts said, “we just wanted to get ahead of it.”

Until Glasnow actually returns to the mound, and rediscovers the form that keyed his first selection to the Midsummer Classic, his back injury will linger as one more question for the Dodgers’ pitching staff — which before Tuesday’s news was already dealing with plenty of them.

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“You just pick up the pieces, or whatever pieces you have,” Roberts said, “and you have to readjust and move forward.”

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