Has Matt Kemp regained his power stroke? It seems to be so. Last night Matt Kemp slammed a towering solo home run to center field. The blast went about several rows into the seats at At&t Park. That was Kemp’s sixth home run of the season and his first since July 21. The booming shot gave the Dodgers the eventual 2-1 win over the Giants on Tuesday night.
Kemp has missed significant time this season because of various injuries. He missed about two weeks worth of games while recovering from an irritated AC joint in his right shoulder. The injury stemming from his off-season arthroscopic labrum surgery after he tore his shoulder crashing into the Coors Field wall last season. He missed time with a strained hamstring, and then also missed time with an ankle injury suffered during a base running mishap back on July 21 at Washington.
Kemp had just begun to get his stroke back in early July when he hit two home runs during a series at Colorado. During that series from July 2-4, Kemp went 4 for 15 with two home runs, and five runs driven in. Immediately after that Kemp went on the DL with the shoulder injury. Then when he returned from the DL on July 21 at Washington, he hit a home run in that game and had three hits. Unfortunately it seems whenever Kemp regains his health, some other injury crops up. This time it was a base running mistake that cost Kemp. During the ninth inning, Kemp was jogging home from third base on a grounder, when he realized that there was going to be a play at the plate. It seemed as if he couldn’t decide whether to slide or come in standing up. Kemp decided to make an awkward slide into home plate, and rolled his ankle in the process. His ankle rolled back underneath him, and it looked pretty painful. Kemp was back on the DL shortly thereafter. Kemp missed around 45 games because of the ankle injury, before returning for the Arizona series on September 16.
The Dodgers were hesitant to bring him back too early, but the minor league season had ended and they had run out of time to send him on a rehab assignment. They were also running out of time in general as the season was coming to a close, and they had little time to get him major league ready.
Kemp did go on a minor league rehab assignment before he was activated on September 16. He struggled going hitless in 18 at-bats. He didn’t look right, and it appeared that he may not return at all this season.
But thankfully, the Bison did return, and the Dodgers just kind of threw him back into the fire. The minor league season was over so they couldn’t send him back for another rehab assignment. It was now or never with him. His first plate appearance was a pinch-hit at-bat in the bottom of the ninth inning during game 1 of the series at Arizona. Kemp struck out swinging on a low and away pitch to end the game. The next night however, Kemp came back with a vengeance.
Kemp collected four hits in the game, none were home runs, but he went 4 for 4 in that game with two doubles, and three runs driven in.
The Dodgers clinched the NL West in that series, and Kemp’s bat played a huge part in it. During the series, Kemp went 6 for 13 with three runs driven in, and two doubles. Kemp continued to impress as the Dodgers flew into San Francisco for the final three game series against the Giants.
Last night, Kemp homered, but it was the way that he did it that gave Dodger fans hope that Beastmode is finally back. Kemp’s booming solo home run, (that became the game winner), was a massive shot to center field. Kemp’s swing looked like a classic Kemp swing of old. If you remember, when Kemp was on his game, he hit a lot of opposite field home runs, and home runs to straightaway center field. Kemp’s shot looked like one of his home runs from 2011, or the beginning of 2012. Just a towering moon shot into the center field stands.
Since coming back from the DL, Kemp is 8 for 26 (.308) with a home run, and four runs driven in. Overall Kemp is batting .270 with six home runs, and 31 runs driven in. Kemp’s on base is low (.325), but probably because he has whiffed 76 times, and drawn only 20 walks this year. If Kemp has found his power stroke again, that that’s a huge advantage for the Dodgers in the playoffs. Especially with Andre Ethier still out with his own ankle injury, the Dodgers are going to need a healthy powerful Matt Kemp to return to form.
Has Bison found his power stroke?