Matt Kemp Injury Leaves Dodgers Hamstrung
The week began well enough; Los Angeles had just finished up another series win, taking two of three from the Astros and – oh joy! – Matt Kemp was set to return from a 15-day stint on the disabled list.
Before the week ended, the Dodgers were in the midst of a four-game losing streak after being swept at home by the struggling Brewers. Beginning Friday, they head out for a 10-game road trip that includes stops in Colorado and Philadelphia and – oh no! – Kemp is back on the DL. In just his second game back, Kemp re-aggravated his hamstring injury and will miss at least the next four weeks.
Then again, that's why you build a five-game lead, isn't it? We'll see how much of it L.A. will need over the next month. While Kemp was gone the first time, the Dodgers went 9-5 (including winning six in a row) and gained half a game over the second-place Giants. And they were doing it names like Sands and Sellers. Those aren't exactly household names, at least not outside of the Sands and Sellers households. There was a Van Slyke thrown in there, but it was son Scott and not dad Andy.
And since running the Albuquerque Isotopes out onto the field daily isn't a viable solution for a contending Major League club, the Dodgers have to believe that help is around the corner. Juan Rivera and Juan Uribe are expected back soon, which would help take pressure off Andre Ethier. (By the way, the “MVP” chants for Matt Kemp every night have somewhat obscured Ethier's great season.)
Looking for more silver linings? The Juniors – Tony Gwynn, Jr. and Jerry Hairston, Jr. have been gap-stoppers extraordinaire, both at the plate and on the field. No one would have pegged Chris Capuano for seven wins before Memorial Day and Ted Lilly's strong start means he'll be missed during his current DL stint.
But it all comes back to that big hole in the middle of the lineup. Forget the dream of becoming the first 50-50 player, Kemp has to hope he can get healthy enough to help his team make a push to the playoffs.
Then again, if there's any division that allows for a little leeway, it's the National League West. Every team in the division has flaws, so barring any long losing streaks, it's hard to see L.A. falling out of contention. But this next month is going to be a true gut check.