Matt Kemp Back to DL: Can Los Angeles Dodgers Withstand Long-Term Loss?

Evan Budrovich@@evanbudCorrespondent IJune 4, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 30:  Matt Kemp #27 of the Los Angeles Dodgers is greeted by manager Don Mattingly as he returns to the dugout after scoring from first base on a double by Andre Ethier in the first inning againstthe Milwaukee Brewers on May 30, 2012 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California.  Kemp came out of the game after the play.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

On Thursday May 31st  Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp re-injured his left hamstring and was placed on the 15-day DL. The Los Angeles Dodgers will be extra cautious with Matt Kemp's hamstring and plan on not bringing Kemp back to the team until at least July. 

Now that Matt Kemp has been placed on the DL, the onus gets placed on the entire team to step up their game to fill the production of Matt Kemp for an extended period of time. Although Matt Kemp was struggling in May before his first stint on the DL, the month of April belonged to Kemp who blasted 12 home runs and hit over .400.

How have the Dodgers fared since Kemp’s placement on the DL? The Dodgers are 1-2 after losing the finale of their series against the Colorado Rockies, 3-2. A.J. Ellis homered for the Dodgers, but his efforts were not enough, cutting the gap between themselves and the San Francisco Giants to only three games in the NL West.

When predicting how a team will fare over a long period of time without a superstar one must look at an array of factors. First the schedule of who they will be playing, and second one must compare the number of home and road games inside and out of the division. Finally the momentum of the team at the time must be taken into consideration in order to determine how a team will perform. 

On Monday the Los Angeles Dodgers continue their 10-game road trip versus Philadelphia for four games. Then the Dodgers will play their first interleague series against the Seattle Mariners. The Dodgers then return home and welcome their cross-town rival, the Los Angeles Angels, for three games followed by the Chicago White Sox. Once the homestand concludes the Dodgers begin a nine game California road trip with trips to Oakland, Anaheim and the second place San Francisco Giants. To finish the month of June the Dodgers welcome the New York Mets to Chavez Ravine for a three-game series.

The Dodgers only have one off day during that stretch and play 16 out of their next 25 games on the road, life will be tough without Matt Kemp. The opponents are no slouch for the Dodger either who will need to draw some magic from their formula that has produced their league best record of 33-21. The Dodgers own this record largely in part due to their league best 21-9 home record.  

The road has been a completely different story for the Dodgers who struggle to win games convincingly. The Dodgers are 12-12 on the road this season and struggle to score runs as compared to the friendly confines of Chavez Ravine, leaving room for concern for the Dodgers. The Dodgers will embark on multiple road trips coming up this month and have no room to continue their offensive struggle on the road. The Dodgers have difficult road series versus the Phillies, Giants and Los Angeles Angels making each game Matt Kemp miss all the more deadly. I believe the Dodgers will struggle on the road against these teams making their home series against the recently hot Chicago White Sox and New York Mets all the more vital for their success this month.

Here is the real question for Dodgers fans, can the city survive the emotional strain that comes from losing their superstar Matt Kemp? Pressure is rising in Los Angeles with the success of the Los Angeles Kings who are two wins away from winning the Stanley Cup. Not to mention that the Clippers won their first postseason series since 2006 and in Lakers Land trade rumors are flying over seven-footers Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum making this offseason very exciting for both basketball teams. The Los Angeles sports scene has been rocking during the month of May, and as the summer approaches Los Angeles fans are beginning to invest their hearts into Dodger baseball. 

These fans want not only victories but to field a competitive team even with the loss of Matt Kemp. This next month may not win the Dodgers the division but will certainly determine how aggressive this team will be in free agency. If the Dodgers can stay afloat in the relatively weak NL West, this team will be primed to add a key bat to the lineup and further validate their best record in baseball.   

Now for predictions, expect the Dodgers to struggle during June barely posting a .500 record over their next thirty games. Now is not the time to panic for Dodger nation, but the schedule with its mixture of hot opponents and long stretches of road games is very challenging. Not to mention that  the Dodgers offense has recently struggled making this team desperate for other players to contribute and lighten the load on Andre Ethier and Bobby Abreu at the dish. Tony Gwynn Jr. has done his best with the added playing time hitting .277 with 14 RBI but someone else will need to step up in the power department.

It’s time for the Los Angeles Dodgers to prove they not only deserve the record in baseball, but also can survive the loss of their best player for an extended period of time.