Matt Kemp Injury: LA Dodgers Won't Survive Without Superstar

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistMay 31, 2012

PHOENIX, AZ - MAY 21:  Matt Kemp #27 of the Los Angeles Dodgers sits in the dugout during the MLB game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on May 21, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Dodgers were able to stay afloat without Matt Kemp once, but it is going to be difficult to make lightning strike twice if the superstar has to miss substantial time after re-aggravating his hamstring in Wednesday's game against Milwaukee

Kemp was pulled from the game after the first inning, when he was hobbling around the bases to score on Andre Ethier's double. 

Speaking candidly after the game, Kemp said that this injury feels different than the first one, and not in a good way (via the Associated Press h/t ESPN):

"I just felt it grab a little bit. It's hurting pretty good right now, so we'll see what the MRI says tomorrow. We went through all the tests, and I was running real hard and doing everything normal. I don't know what happened.

"It feels worse than the first time. This is my first time ever really having any hamstring problems, so I don't know how to really treat it."

Times are going to get tough for the Dodgers if Kemp has to miss substantial time again. They have put together the best record in baseball thus far, 32-18, but they are doing it with a lot of smoke and mirrors. 

The offense is third in on-base percentage (.342) and fourth in batting average (.270), but just 12th in runs scored. They don't have a lot of power in the lineup, especially without Kemp. 

A.J. Ellis, who came into the season with a career slugging percentage of .395, is slugging .496 in 2012. His batting average on balls in play is an unsustainable .375. Jerry Hairston is hitting .366/.444/.493 in 71 at-bats. Even Bobby Abreu has put up an OPS of .905 with the Dodgers. 

Dee Gordon and his .317 on-base percentage should not be hitting leadoff for a Major League Baseball team. 

Those players are going to start to regress to the mean the longer the season goes on, and the lack of depth in the lineup will be exploited. 

Their pitching has been outstanding thus far, led by Clayton Kershaw, but again we are looking at a lot of small samples that will not last. Chris Capuano and his fringe-average fastball are not going to have an ERA of 2.14 all season. Chad Billingsley has a solid ERA of 3.88, but his 1.46 WHIP likely means that is not sustainable. 

Kemp is the glue that holds everything together. He is a superstar at one of the most difficult positions to fill. They need him healthy and productive to stay in contention all season. If he has to miss a lot of time due to this injury, times are going to get tough in Hollywood.