399 games. That was the consecutive games played streak that ended Monday night as Kemp missed his first contest since 2009. After battling a barking hamstring for over a week, an MRI revealed a strain that landed the best player in the National League on the disabled list.
The injury and resultant downtime comes in the midst of a homestand over which the Dodgers face their division rivals. After finishing a brief two game series with the D Backs, the club heads to San Diego for another short stint before returning home to battle the NL Central leading St. Louis Cardinals. After that, it's 3 more in Arizona then home for 3 against the Astros and 4 with the Brewers.
Assuming Kemp comes back when he's eligible to return, the Dodgers will play four series without him. Of those series, only the three at home vs the Cards pit the club against a team with a record better than .500. The D Backs and Astros have 15 wins a piece, while the Padres are last in the NL West with a 12-24 mark.
The only series that should give the team any trouble is with the Cardinals. The 2011 world champions are off to a hot start in spite of losing Albert Pujols in free agency. Their +63 run differential is second only to the Rangers and they've scored the most runs in the National League with 191. However, Carlos Beltran, who's been one of their hottest hitters, is having knee problems and it's uncertain if he'll be at full strength by the weekend.
Obviously the Dodgers won't be able to fill the hole in the lineup without Kemp, but he hasn't exactly been tearing the cover off the ball in May. Through 11 games, Matt was hitting just .212 in the month with no homers and only two extra base hits. His .644 OPS ranked 7th on the club for players with at least 20 at bats in the May.
So who's picked up the slack? Well, A.J. Ellis has been one of the hottest hitters in the league of late. His 1.241 OPS leads the team, as do his 2 home runs. Andre Ethier has also come on strong in May, batting .359/.435/.641. The other Ellis, Mark, is posting a line of .324/.444/.459. Even Tony Gwynn Jr. and Bobby Abreu are contributing with OPS's of over .800.
Honestly, I think it was a wise move for the team to preempt a series injury by giving Kemp time off to get fully healthy. Sure, their offense may suffer, but they've been hitting doing well without much of a contribution from Matt for a week and a half now. With the ease of the schedule, strong pitching and just enough offense, the team should be fine.
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