Matt Kemp's Latest Injury Won't Derail the Suddenly Red-Hot Dodgers

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured Columnist IVOctober 17, 2016

July 5, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp (27) is looked at by manager Don Mattingly (left) and head trainer Sue Falsone (right, front) during the second inning against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off a stint on the 15-day DL for a right thigh strain, Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp managed just one game before again landing on the shelf with an ankle injury.

A legitimate MVP candidate in 2011 when he hit .324/.399/.586 with 39 home runs, 126 RBI and 40 steals, Kemp was limited to just 106 games last season, and this is already his third stint on the disabled list this season.

In all, the 28-year-old has played in just 11 games since May 29, and despite that, the Dodgers have been one of the hottest teams in baseball of late and pulled into first place in the NL West.

The team was 30-42 on June 21, but they have gone 23-5 since and are currently riding a six-game winning streak. In a wide open NL West, they're now 1.5 games up on the Arizona Diamondbacks.

As the trade deadline approaches, the Dodgers could still look to deal for some roster depth, but all in all, they should be able to overcome this latest injury.

With the emergence of Yasiel Puig, outfield depth is already one of the strengths of the team, as Puig will start alongside Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford with Kemp again on the disabled list.

Puig has leveled off a bit since his hot start, batting .292/.350/.431 in July, but he remains an impact bat and has gone 6-for-13 in his last three games, so he may be heating up once again.

If the team can upgrade at second or third base with a deadline deal, they may actually end July with a better lineup than they have right now, even with Kemp on the disabled list. The way they're playing right now, they have to be considered the favorites to win their division title.

Had Kemp been a driving force in the middle of the offense this season and been putting up the type of numbers he did back in 2011, this injury may have been a big blow. However, the fact of the matter is he's hitting just .263/.319/.382 with five home runs and 27 RBI in 228 at-bats this season.

The Dodgers have a tough stretch coming up with series against the Reds (4), Cardinals (4) and Rays (3) among their next 17 games, so that will be a tough test for them. 

However, if they can make it through that stretch still in a position to win the division, just 13 of their final 45 games are against teams with winning records.

Losing Kemp is unfortunate, but it's by no means a deal breaker for this team. After a rocky start, their recent spending spree has finally begun to pay off. The talent is there for them to make some serious noise in October, and they look to be in a good position to get there even with the Kemp injury.