The Dodgers are gearing up for a Matt Kemp return tomorrow night. On May 14th when Kemp went on the disabled list, I wrote that I didn’t believe his absence would be disastrous:
“He can get to the business at hand...healing,” I wrote. All appearances are that Matt has done so. Based on reports from Head Trainer Sue Falsone, his antics when pummeling game day heroes with game winning hits and most importantly, the results of his first minor league rehabilitation start in Albuquerque last night.
|Matt Kemp in Albuquerque last night. (photo by Zach Hill/Albuquerque Isotopes)|
In three at bats, Kemp homered and banged out another hit. He scored two runs and knocked in three, leading the Isotopes to a 11-9 win over Oklahoma City. It should also be noted that Juan Rivera also homered in his return to the field.
While many saw Kemp’s D.L. stint as a sign of disaster, I thought that the 6 game lead the Dodgers had at the time was comfortable enough, and that this would be an opportunity to see others shine. In fact, I thought that the upcoming schedule was favorable enough that the Dodgers would be fine. I said the following:
“So they have fourteen more games (without Kemp) with a 6 game cushion. They should be able to maintain the lead and hold their own against the competition over the next 14 days. I wouldn’t put it past them to build upon the lead even more.”
I must say that my expectations wouldn’t have nearly been so high had I known that Mark Ellis, Juan Uribe and Justin Sellers would go down too. But the team has held its own, going 9-4 without Matt in the lineup. Take a look at the standings comparison.
Standings on May 14 May 28
Los Angeles 24-11 32-15
San Francisco 18-17 6.0 25-23 7.5
Arizona 15-21 9.5 22-26 10.5
Colorado 13-21 10.5 17-29 14.5
San Diego 12-24 12.5 17-32 16.0
So the Nostrodaumus in me continued 14 days ago, saying:
“The amazing thing about this club is that they continue winning, even without their major offensive force in the lineup. Will it keep up? I certainly hope so. Steady starting pitching, a respectable defense that is making plays and the occasional clutch hit, combined with an uncanny ability to win at home has resulted in the best record in Major League Baseball. It also helps that a player like Andre Ethier is hitting ..462 on the homestand and A.J. Ellis, now batting 5th has an OBP also at .462 on the season.”
Who would have thought that the defending division champs (Arizona) would be 9.5 games out on May 14th?”
Fourteen days later those D-Backs are an additional game behind. The Giants, 1 game and a half deeper in the standings. Nobody is making a run in this division. All NL West teams are dealing with injuries, slumps and various other problems. The Dodgers are too, but they continue to prevail. If the Dodgers were to play .500 ball for the remainder of the season, they’ll end up with 91 victories. Even the most optimistic prognosticators will tell you that 90 wins is enough to win the National League West.
|Scott Van Slyke receives a heroes welcome after homering to beat St. Louis on May 20, 2012 (photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)|
There have been call-ups from the minors. Some have excelled. Others not so much. There have been the occasional heroes (i.e. Van Slyke, De Jesus, Herrera, Sellers) and those that have been given a shot, but really haven't jumped up and made the decision hard to demote them back to AAA. None of us will feel any particular angst at Sands, Van Slyke or De Jesus being sent back to Albuquerque.
This ball club simply keeps winning. The chemistry on the team is as good as any I've seen with a Dodger team since 1988. Everyone has contributed in some way. That is the sign of a winning team, a championship team. Now that Kemp will be returning, the sky is the limit for this group of guys. They have weathered the storm and now can really move forward.
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