When the Dodgers were on their historic run from June 22 through the end of August, reporters, talk show hosts, bloggers and fans were basically all saying the same thing – “The Dodgers are the best team in baseball and have a legitimate shot at winning the World Series if they stay healthy.” Little did anyone know at the time, that four word disclaimer at the end would loom large for the Dodgers – extremely large.
With 13 games remaining in the regular season and with their magic number down to four, there isn’t anyone who honestly believes that the Dodgers will not win National League West. The problem is that with the recent rash of injuries to Hanley Ramirez, Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Yasiel Puig, and with their projected return to the lineup anywhere from one day to two weeks away, you can’t help but wonder how sharp they will be with the playoffs less than three weeks away. It’s not like they’ll have a lot of time to get their stroke and timing back.
In spite of the untimely injuries to the very heart of his lineup, Dodger manager Don Mattingly refuses to look ahead and is focusing on each game one at a time.
“Frankly, we’re just trying to win games,” said Mattingly after Sunday’s 4-3 loss to the Giants. “This time of year it’s tough to win games.”
With Ramirez and Crawford out with back issues, Ethier out with an ankle strain and Puig out with a sore left hip, Mattingly has no choice but to do the best he can with what he’s got. But the painful reality is that without these guys, the chances of the Dodgers going deep into the post-season are quite slim – especially when you consider how well the Cardinals, Reds, Pirates and Braves are all playing right now.
The news ins’t all bad for the Dodgers. Mattingly said that Matt Kemp will join the team later today at Chase Field and is expected to run and do other baseball activities under the watchful eyes of Mattingly and the Dodgers medical staff. If all goes well Kemp could possibly be activated from the disabled list for the Arizona series.
“I’ve been told that depending where he’s at it could be (Monday),” Mattingly said. “Obviously we want him to be healthy.”
Asked if Kemp would start on Monday if he is activated from the DL, Mattingly wasn’t quite as specific.
“I haven’t got that far yet, maybe.”
The Dodgers’ September struggles aren’t only offense related, they have also had issues on the mound – a lot of issues, in fact. Since September 1, Dodger starters are a collective 4-4 and the bullpen a collective 2-4. Kershaw, Ryu, Nolasco and Volquez each have a loss thus far in September, as do Rodriguez, Belisario, Wilson and Howell out of the bullpen. Not exactly what you want to hear with the first game of the NLDS only 18 days away.