Clayton Kershaw exited Thursday's start with an apparent back injury.
The Los Angeles Dodgers ace pitched just four innings before leaving Thursday afternoon's game against the San Francisco Giants.
Kershaw removed himself from the game at Oracle Park while warming up for the fifth frame. The 34-year-old appeared to tell team trainers, "It's my back" while walking off the field.
Weeks removed from starting the All-Star Game, Kershaw left Thursday's abbreviated outing with a 2.64 ERA and 88 strikeouts in 85.1 innings. While the lefty remains one of baseball's finest pitchers when healthy, injuries have hindered the star southpaw over the last few years.
Kershaw made 22 starts last season and missed the playoffs for the Dodgers, who lost to Atlanta in the NLCS.
He hasn't pitched 180 or more innings in a season since 2015, with back ailments often proving the culprit. The three-time Cy Young Award winner already spent a month on the injured list this season with SI joint inflammation.
Kershaw's injury occurring two days after the trade deadline is especially poor timing for the Dodgers. A year after acquiring superstars Max Scherzer and Trea Turner, they didn't make a comparable splash.
The Dodgers are already missing fellow ace Walker Buehler, who hopes to return from a right elbow injury in mid-to-late September.
On the bright side, Los Angeles began the day with an MLB-best 70-33 record and an 11.5-game lead in the National League West. They also recently welcomed back Andrew Heaney from the IL, and young flamethrower Dustin May is rehabbing in the minors.
Losing Kershaw would be a tough blow for the Dodgers, but their primary concern should be making sure he's healthy for the playoffs.