A couple of notes on the two biggest Dodgers' stars, a day after they dropped their fourth straight in a 2-1 setback to the Diamondbacks.
Matt Kemp will be back in the starting lineup and playing center for the first time since July 21 in Washington. He was activated on Monday and actually did find himself pinch-hitting in a huge spot. With the Dodgers down by one in the ninth, he got the call with two outs and runners on second and third... and promptly struck out.
Supposedly he's been hitting well, but his baserunning has been a question mark. I can't say that starting him makes me feel anymore comfortable about his chances of staying healthy the rest of this year. But, maybe the Dodgers are at the point where they feel he is what he is right now, and if he gets hurt again, it's not a surprise. Regardless, for a team scuffling big time on offense, it's a good thing to see his name in the lineup.
Hanley Ramirez is also back in the lineup, so that's obviously a big boost as well.
The other bit of news concerns Clayton Kershaw, who will get three more days of rest, as he gets pushed back from Wednesday in Arizona to Saturday in San Diego. He hasn't started since pitching seven innings and giving up two earned runs (three total) against the Giants at home last Friday.
This move makes sense on a couple different levels. For one, even though the magic number to clinch the NL West seems to be stuck at four, with a little under two weeks left in the regular season, it's only a matter of time before the division is clinched. The Dodgers can afford to sneak in extra rest.
The second reason is that even though Kershaw still has an incredible 1.94 ERA, he has thrown a league high 223 innings, and hasn't been his normal sharp self the last few starts. Yes, it's nitpicking, but his location seems to be somewhat out of whack. So, if giving him a little extra time off helps relax him, then I'm all for it.