Dodgers Might Be Feeling A Little Blue
The April flowers that bloomed with lights-out pitching and torrid starts from Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp have turned into May showers. (And if that sounds backwards, well … that's par for the course on a team where Ted Lilly has outpitched Clayton Kershaw for the first month.) The team returns to Chavez Ravine from a 2-4 road trip for an all-NL West home stand beginning with Monday night's tilt against the Giants featuring The New Adventures of Old Barry Zito.
But if you're Donnie Baseball, you notice a few problems cropping up. First and foremost is Kemp. And it's not even his .214 average through the first five games of May – a cool down was almost mandatory after his insane April. It's the tweaked hamstring that kept him out of the starting lineup Sunday. General manager Ned Colletti said Kemp was held out as a precaution (he appeared as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning), and the Dodgers have to hope that it was mostly a function of unfriendly conditions at the Friendly Confines.
Kemp isn't L.A.'s only injury worry. Juan Uribe has been battling a wrist issue for the past few weeks, but now it appears that the Blue Crew could be without Jerry Hairston, Jr. for a little while. In recent weeks, Hairston was becoming an increasingly invaluable utility option with outstanding defense at second base, third base and left field – three spots where the Dodgers were thin to begin with. But Hairston injured his hamstring Sunday and while he remains optimistic, Mattingly and trainer Sue Falsone weren't as positive.
That could make Dodger Stadium more of a rest home for old Angels. Adam Kennedy will likely start at third base while Juan Rivera and the recently-signed Bobby Abreu platoon in left field. That's a nice trio … in 2006. It hamstrings an already mediocre defensive team without adding any significant pop to the lineup.
Yet the biggest issue is the bullpen. After Kenley Jansen and Josh Lindblom, there aren't many reasons to have confidence in the mop-up guys. Most disconcerting is first-year closer Javy Guerra, who is 0-2 with a 13.50 ERA and pair of blown saves in his last five appearances. Previously, Mattingly has said he was mostly concerned about Guerra's swagger, but after another misstep in Chicago over the weekend, it might be time to start worrying about Guerra's stuff.
With the Dodgers four games clear of the next team in the division, they're not going to draw any sympathy. But limping into a stretch with 13 of their next 16 games against NL West foes, Los Angeles could find its fortunes changing in a hurry.