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Los Angeles Dodgers Can Still Win It All Without Matt Kemp

Josh SchochAnalyst IIISeptember 29, 2013

The Los Angeles Dodgers will have to complete their quest for a World Series ring without outfielder Matt Kemp.

According to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, Kemp will sit out during the postseason after he couldn't recover from an ankle injury. 

Kemp ruled out for playoffs.

— Dylan Hernandez (@dylanohernandez) September 29, 2013

"To sum it up, if I keep playing on it, my ankle could break." -Matt Kemp on his status.

— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) September 29, 2013

Losing a former MVP candidate is never easy, and having him miss the postseason is a tough pill to swallow for the Dodgers.

The news that Kemp will miss the remainder of 2013 comes mere hours after conflicting reports concerning his ankle.

According to Dan Arritt of ESPN, the injury slowed Kemp enough to warrant him missing Sunday's regular-season finale. However, Hernandez quoted Dodgers manager Don Mattingly as saying that he expected Kemp to be ready to go in October.

Matt Kemp expected to be ready for start of playoffs. "I feel good about it," Mattingly said.

— Dylan Hernandez (@dylanohernandez) September 29, 2013

Despite what was previously said, Kemp made it known that he will be nothing more than a spectator during the team's playoff run.

"I'll be the biggest cheerleader, like I have been -- the loudest guy on the bench every night." -Matt Kemp

— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) September 29, 2013

To make matters worse, Kemp will also need to undergo surgery to clean up his shoulder during the offseason.

Kemp also will have surgery for "progressive arthritis in AC joint," not same joint he injured last year. Recovery about 6 weeks.

— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) September 29, 2013

The Dodgers are now going to move on without one of their best outfielders.

Luckily, the team has other options.  Los Angeles has one of the best outfields in the game today, due in large part to the fact that it has four guys who could start for any team in the league.

 

Aug 26, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp watches from the dugout during the game against the Chicago Cubs at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers defeated the Cubs 6-2. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Carl Crawford and rookie sensation Yasiel Puig are both healthy right now and will be starting for the Dodgers in the outfield. Andre Ethier could also be ready to go by the time the team plays in the NLDS, although it remains to be seen  whether or not that will be the case. It's not looking good, however, and time is running out for him to get back to 100 percent.

The Los Angeles #Dodgers ruled Matt Kemp out for the entire postseason, and Andre Ethier likely available only as pinch-hitter.

— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) September 29, 2013

Tues workout for Andre Ethier could be most crucial workout in recent post-season memory. Mattingly: "If he can't run, he can't play."

— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) September 29, 2013

The safe bet is that Skip Schumaker will be asked to start in his place and that Ethier will be used as a pinch-hitter.

Assuming that Ethier is not the team's everyday starter, here's a look at its outfield in October:

As you can see, Schumaker's batting average of .263 isn't all that far behind Kemp's .270. While his power numbers are not as good as Kemp's, Schumaker is still a solid replacement in center field.

Crawford and Puig, however, have been penciled into the starting lineup for months, and their contributions will be vital to the team's success. They've come through many times for Los Angeles, and they must do so once again during the postseason.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Matt Kemp #27 of the Los Angeles Dodgers is congratulated by manager Don Mattingly (L) and Skip Schumaker #55 (R) after Kemp scored on a sacrifice fly during the six inning against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park o
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Dodgers have also found success without Kemp this season. Since he only played 73 of the team's 162 regular-season games, it has actually played without him more than it's played with him. It has a 55-34 record without him compared to just 37-36 with him.

While saying that the Dodgers are better without the two-time All-Star borders on blasphemy, it's obvious they can still win without him. In fact, the team's big run during the second half of the season came with Kemp on the DL.

Bad news, but they did make their big move with him on the DL. RT @Dodgers: Matt Kemp will be shut down for the rest of the season.

— Jesse Spector (@jessespector) September 29, 2013

Los Angeles shouldn't have much of a problem finding ways to make up for his production. Its lineup has been potent in the second half of the season, ranking second among NL playoff teams behind only the St. Louis Cardinals.

However, the pitching staff has been the Dodgers' biggest strength, as it leads the MLB in ERA by a mile in the second half of the season. At 2.76, it is light years ahead of the Atlanta Braves, who rank second at 2.97.

It's not hard to see why the Dodgers have been so dominant on the mound when their starting rotation during the postseason should look like this:

Clayton Kershaw has been arguably the best pitcher in baseball this season, leading MLB in ERA and WHIP while leading the NL in strikeouts as well.

After Kershaw, the team has two more aces in Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu. These two guys have been very impressive this season and will have a big influence on the Dodgers' postseason success.

Throw in midseason acquisition Ricky Nolasco, who has gone 8-3 with a 3.56 ERA with the Dodgers, as the fourth starter, and Los Angeles' starting rotation appears to be the best in baseball.

The Dodgers have been on fire since the All-Star break, going 45-23. Through 43 games, the team's .814 winning percentage since the break would have been the best in history, surpassing the 1954 Cleveland Indians by a ridiculous .039.

While the Dodgers eventually came back to Earth and finished the second half 22 games over .500, there is no denying that they have been the hottest team since the break, which they played largely without Kemp's help.

While losing Kemp hurts, the Dodgers are going to be just fine. They still have the potential to win a World Series this year. 

Sep 24, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp (27) during batting practice before the game against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

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