For the second time in as many nights we witnessed Matt Kemp being removed from the game in the late innings. On Tuesday night at home during a 3-0 Dodger win over the Angels Kemp was double-switched out of the game in the top of the ninth after complaining of numbness in his fingers after being hit by a pitch earlier in that game. Last night he was quietly removed in the seventh inning because of a strained right hamstring. Haven’t we been down this road before? Yes we have, when Kemp strained the other hamstring last season costing him to miss 56 games in the first half of that season. As you know, Kemp is coming off of major shoulder surgery and has been struggling all season. Kemp has been unable to find his rhythm, or regain his power stroke. Kemp is hitting just .251 this season with two home runs, and 17 RBI. Kemp was 5 for 37 over the last ten games before last night. On Monday night Kemp went 0 for 5 with four whiffs earning himself the golden sombrero and was booed loudly as he walked off the field. last night he was 0 for 3 with two whiffs before leaving the game in the seventh.
Kemp will have an MRI to determine the severity of the strain, but another trip to the disabled list appears possible. If Kemp has to miss time what are the Dodgers going to do?
The best solution for the club would be to move Carl Crawford over to center, keep Ethier in right, and put Scott Van Slyke in left field. Because Matt Kemp’s pain may end up being Scott Van Slyke’s gain. And well it should. I admit, I wasn’t impressed when Van Slyke came up the first time around, but now my opinion of him has completely changed. The big man impressed me in his second stint with the Dodgers, and he brings something the team sorely lacks. Power.
Van Slyke’s first stint was a disaster. The 26 year old outfielder was atrocious on both sides of the ball in 2012. Van Slyke played in 27 games, batted .167 (9 for 54), with two home runs, and an OPS of .511. The son of former centerfielder Andy Van Slyke split time between the outfield corners and first base. This season Van Slyke has looked great, and has given the Dodgers a boost of pop into their punch-less lineup. Van Slyke looks like he has put in some serious work, as he has improved his game at the plate tremendously.
The big man is hitting .296 (8 for 27) with four home runs, and four doubles. All eight of his hits have been for extra bases this season. Last night, he hit another booming shot, a solo home run off of Angel’s closer Ernesto Frieri. Van Slyke’s OPS this season is 1.144.
I urge Don Mattingly to NOT play Skip Schumaker in center field. Please keep him on the bench where he belongs. Resist the urge to start him Donnie. The guy is useless at the plate and in the field. The Dodgers would of course have to call up someone from the minors to replace Kemp on the roster if this latest hammy strain lands him on the DL. Options include Joc Pederson, Alex Castellanos, and of course yes even Yasiel Puig.
Regardless of whom they called up, and I would bet money it would probably be Castellanos, or even Elian Herrera is another option they may consider. The best decision for the Dodgers right now is to move Crawford to center, call-up Castellanos, or Puig, and give some playing time to Van Slyke in left. The Dodgers have doomed themselves by making a lot of poor roster decisions this year. It’s a big reason they’re in last place. They either wait too long to call someone up, or call up the wrong guy, or send down the wrong guy. Whatever the case, they can’t screw this one up.
Van Slyke deserves some extra playing time. The big man is a large gnarly righty masher with a very cool looking mustache. He swings big, and hits the ball real far. The guy has 30 home run potential right now, and he’s hitting. Why not play the hot hand? The Dodgers need more power in the lineup. Van Slyke has hit four home runs already in 11 games. Hell, Kemp and Ethier combined have only hit 6 homers all year long. The Dodgers need the big man.
So please Dodgers, don’t screw this up this time. Don’t make another bad roster move. If Kemp has to miss a large portion of time again, then do the right thing. Please Don’t play Skip Schumaker in center field. Give some time to Scott Van Slyke. Let the big man mash.