Which Los Angeles Dodger Could Be Most Affected by a Matt Kemp DL Stint?

Joe Chacon@JoeChaconContributor IIIMay 14, 2012

Don Mattingly will try to keep his club focused while Matt Kemp is on the mend.
Don Mattingly will try to keep his club focused while Matt Kemp is on the mend.Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Dodgers fans are collectively holding their breath today as they await the results from Matt Kemp's MRI.

Kemp has probably talked his way into the starting lineup over the past few days. He is an absolute gamer who has played in 399 consecutive games, the longest current streak in the majors.

After Kemp aggravated his injury trying to beat out an infield hit, you could tell he knew this was something more than mild discomfort. He threw his glove in anger as he walked off the field.

However, true to his character, Kemp said this immediately following the game:

I'm definitely not going on the DL; that's not going to happen. The team needs me. I don't think this is a 15-day thing. It's maybe one, two, three days. It's not something that I need to go on the DL for.

One has to admire Kemp's willingness to play through pain, but it might be a good idea to shut him down for a couple of weeks so that the rest of the season isn't plagued by a recurring issue with his hamstring.

The injury appears to have been hampering Kemp's ability at the plate over the past week. In his last five games, Kemp has gone 1-for-16 at the plate and is hitless in his last 13 at-bats. The once phenomenal batting average of .406 has dropped to .359, and he hasn't hit a home run since April 30 (31 at-bats).

If Kemp needs to take a trip to the DL, the person most affected would be Andre Ethier.

Throughout the early part of this sesaon Ethier has had the opportunity to hit behind Kemp. Between May 8 and May 12, while Kemp went 0-for-14, Ethier was a stellar 8-for-15.

Opposing pitchers have not been giving Kemp great pitches to hit, but instead they have focused on trying to get Ethier out at the plate.With Kemp out of the lineup, Ethier becomes the Dodger hitter that will most likely be pitched around. Unless the hitters surrounding him (Mark Ellis, James Loney, Bobby Abreu) can show they are a consistent threat, Ethier will not be getting many good pitches to hit.

This will be the first major test of adversity for Don Mattingly and his club. As of today, the Dodgers sit atop all of baseball with a .676 winning percentage and hold a six-game lead over San Francisco in the National League West.