Dodgers @ Giants, September 8, 2012: Kempless

September 8, 2012 at 11:40 am | Posted in Game Threads | Leave a comment

You want to know how rough things are right now? Dylan Hernandez reported a short time ago that Matt Kemp would miss the remaining two games of the Giants series after undergoing an MRI on his shoulder, and the response here isn’t “oh, no.” It’s “yeah, that sounds about right, and it’s about time.” It’s not strictly accurate that his recent slump has coincided with his adventures in the Colorado outfield, because he was on a bit of a “.250/.306/.321 over the previous two weeks” slide even before that, but it doesn’t take an advanced medical degree to see that Kemp just hasn’t been right since then, collecting just three hits in his last 32 plate appearances.

Dodgers
Giants
2B
M.Ellis
CF
Pagan
CF
Victorino
2B
Scutaro
1B
Gonzalez
3B
Sandoval
SS
Ramirez
C
Posey
RF
Ethier
RF
Pence
3B
Cruz
SS
Arias
LF
Rivera
1B
Belt
C
A.Ellis
LF
Blanco
P
Capuano
P
Cain

So, what, if anything, have we learned? That no matter how many times it’s been drilled into everyone’s head over the decades that “heroes play through pain,” it’s nearly a universal truth that hiding an injury or attempting to gut your way through it usually ends up hurting everyone in the end. For pitchers, that can mean a minor arm injury becomes a serious one (hi, Eric Gagne!). In Kemp’s case, even if this doesn’t have deleterious effects on his long-term health, the short-term impact is that he’s been a main contributor to the offensive struggles of the club.

Of course, Kemp at less than his best doesn’t exactly explain away the troubles from the rest of the lineup, and it’s there where I have some hope today. As you know, I don’t like using pitcher-vs-batter stats too much, because most of them have such a small sample size over a long period of years. (“Hey, Matt Treanor went 1-2 against Brad Penny back in 2005. That’s a .500 batting average, put him in!”) However, they can still be fun to look at when you get a decent number of plate appearances included, and the Dodgers have two hitters who have seen Matt Cain more than 50 times. That’d be Adrian Gonzalez, sitting at .321/.391/.643 over 64 plate appearances, and Andre Ethier, .472/.492/.566 in 59 tries. (For the record, Kemp never hit well against Cain anyway.)

So, with Kemp out & Juan Rivera in, that’s the lineup that will attempt to support Chris Capuano as the Dodgers attempt to take the second game of the series. I should note here that I totally disagree with the naysayers who, after last night’s tough loss, claimed that the Dodgers should “give up on the NL West and focus on the wild card.” This isn’t H-O-R-S-E. You don’t have to call your shot before you make it. It’s not like you say, “well, if we win tonight I’m going to put this victory towards the wild card standings,” right? Just win the damn game. Then the next one, then the next one. Where you end up after that will all sort itself out.

Update: Andrew Baggerly of Comcast Bay Area is reporting that Adam Kennedy‘s groin injury will put him out for the year, which, who cares. If anything, that could mean that Kennedy’s final at-bat as a Dodger was a homer… and his final defensive play was a game-turning botch. Poetic.

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