Saturday, September 7, 2013

Kemp being shut down is a big blow for October

The news wasn't good at all for the Dodgers on Friday night.  A first inning two-run homer by Hanley Ramirez was all the offense could muster, as they lost to the Reds in a possible playoff preview, 3-2.  Chris Capuano had to leave in the second inning because of a groin strain, making Don Mattingly scramble to use six relievers the rest of the way.

The worst news, however, came before the game.  That's when it was announced that Matt Kemp has been shut down indefinitely because of a groin injury suffered in rehab.  Again.

Make no mistake about it, if this is it for Kemp this season, it's a huge punch to the stomach for the Dodgers.  They will miss him when the postseason hits, bottom line.

I'm in no way taking anything away from the boys who are on the field, as they've obviously won a lot of games without Kemp.  In the 62 games he has played, he's hitting only .263 with five home runs and 27 RBIs.  Hardly the numbers of a guy who's a perennial MVP-type player when he is healthy.

The biggest reason this is a bad break for the Dodgers is because of the mere threat he brings to the plate every time he steps into the box.  In the postseason, that's a big advantage for any team with a player like that.  If Kemp was ready to go, imagine what the opposing team is thinking: "Oh great, the Dodgers won a ton of games without him, and now he's back at full strength?  This isn't good."

Friday night's game in Cincinnati was a perfect example of what I mean.  The Dodgers got up quickly thanks to Ramirez's two-run shot in the first.  The rest of the way?  Three singles, no extra-base hits, and no runs.  Simply put, they had no punch.  A healthy Kemp is someone who could've stepped up and hit a big home run when they needed it the most.

Let's flashback to the 2008 season.  That's when the Dodgers made the infamous trade for Manny Ramirez on July 31 when they were an even 54-54.  They ended up 84-78 and made the NLCS.  Forgotten during this timespan was the late-September return of Rafael Furcal, who also added an impact bat in the leadoff role.

I'm not saying that Kemp would put up Manny-like numbers, because nobody would do that.  But I am saying that having that big bat in the lineup can completely change everyone's perception.  Kemp can be that type of guy who hits a late homer in a close game to get the Dodgers going again. 

Alas, it looks like the Dodgers will have to role with the team they have right now, which is certainly not a bad thing.  At 83-57 and 12 games up in the NL West, it's a good thing.  But if Kemp came back, it would have been a GREAT thing.

While there's still a small chance Kemp does comeback, I think it's safe to say that Mattingly won't have to worry about juggling four outfielders this postseason.  And that's a shame.

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