Dodgers @ Nationals July 21, 2013: Kemp, Crawford, & Ramirez, Together at Last

July 21, 2013 at 11:35 am | Posted in Game Threads | Leave a comment

nationalsparkThe last time the Dodgers were in first place (not counting the first day or two of the season), it was May 27, 2012, more than a year ago. That was so long ago that the lineup that defeated Houston that day included Tony Gwynn, Elian Herrera, Jerry Sands, Matt Treanor, and Dee Gordon. Actually, it was so long ago that the Astros were still in the National League. Today, for the first time since then, the Dodgers have the opportunity to return to first as they enter today’s game just a half-game behind Arizona, and they’ll do so with Clayton Kershaw on the mound.

They’ll also do so with Matt Kemp in center field for the first time since July 5, as he’s been activated from the disabled list after rehabilitating his sore left shoulder. (As expected, Scott Van Slyke has been returned to Triple-A Albuquerque.)

Dodgers
Nationals
LF
Crawford
CF
Harper
3B
Punto
2B
Rendon
1B
Gonzalez
3B
Zimmerman
SS
Ramirez
RF
Werth
RF
Ethier
1B
LaRoche
CF
Kemp
SS
Desmond
C
A.Ellis
LF
Hairston
2B
M.Ellis
C
Suzuki
P
Kershaw
P
Zimmermann

Kemp will be joined in the outfield by Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier, which means that Yasiel Puig takes a seat for the day. It’s really difficult to argue that call by Don Mattingly, considering that Puig has been awful for weeks now — he’s hitting just .254/.286/.356 in July, and only .216/.259/.235 since hitting that wall in Denver on July 3. I imagine it’s safe to expect we’ll see him at some point, since he can still generate value with his legs and his arm, and as the Dodgers head to Toronto — and the designated hitter — following today’s game, Mattingly will soon have an extra lineup spot to play with.

This is, somewhat shockingly, the first time all season that Kemp, Crawford, & Hanley Ramirez will all be in the lineup together.

And what of Cuban pitcher Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, who has been in the news for weeks as teams vie to sign him? Peter Gammons reports that the Dodgers are preparing a 5/$50m offer for the righty, and “if so, he’ll be a Dodger”. I have no idea if Gonzalez is worth that kind of money, and neither do you. What I do know is that with the overly restrictive new rules on the international market, guys like Gonzalez are one of the few ways in which rich teams can still flex their financial muscle, and after years of neglect under the McCourt regime, we’re already seeing the payoff from the renewed interest in the global market in Puig, Hyun-jin Ryu, and Julio Urias. Gonzalez could be a star, and he could be a bust; we simply don’t know. But I do like the Dodgers using that cashflow to find out.

In the bullpen, let’s hope for a great start from Kershaw today, because Mattingly has used four of his pitchers in both games in the oppressive Washington heat, and while I love him for staying away from Brandon League entirely, that can’t really keep up forever, can it?

As for me, I’ll be keeping a close eye on this one as I continue the week of baseball by taking in future Dodger Cliff Lee (and, sigh, Michael Young) against Matt Harvey out in Queens. Let’s hope this works out just a little better than the weather did for me in Brooklyn last night, please.

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