The Los Angeles Dodgers have suffered losses from injuries all season long, but have surged recently to climb back up the NL West ladder. Conventional wisdom tells me that they will not be able to keep this up.
The good news of the day was that the Dodgers trounced their divisional foes, the Arizona Diamondbacks, and moved a whole game closer in the standings. Only three and a half games back with two more games to play against Arizona, the Dodgers could be within a game and a half by the end of the series.
The bad news of the day was starting pitcher Stephen Fife being sent to the 15-day Disabled List. Fife has been back and forth between the majors and minors this season as needed. Despite the lack of consistent playing time, Fife has put together an impressive year with a 3-3 record in eight starts, a 2.76 ERA and an average of almost seven strikeouts per nine innings.
Fife was meant to be the No. 5 pitcher in the rotation, following newly acquired Ricky Nolasco from the Miami Marlins. In order to make way for Nolasco, the Dodgers had talked about sending starter Chris Capuano to the bullpen. Now that Fife is out for a few weeks, Capuano will remain in the starting rotation. This is very unwelcoming news for Dodgers fans as Capuano has a poor record of 2-5 and a bloated 5.19 ERA.
With Fife out and Capuano remaining in the rotation, the Dodgers will have to expect an extra loss more often than they had hoped, which will certainly dampen their current hot streak. The Boys in Blue have won 13 out of their last 16 games. This spurt of sizzling play started on June 22 which is right around the time that Capuano was injured, catcher A.J. Ellis returned from the DL and Hanley Ramirez started his 19-game hitting streak.
The worst news of the day was the announcement that Matt Kemp’s shoulder was not going to be okay and that he would return to the 15-day DL for the second time this year. Not counting the season-ending trip for Chad Billingsley, Dodgers players have spent a grand total of 330 days on the DL and the season is barely halfway finished.
Unfortunately, the Dodgers will need to get past these injuries and get their team back to full health in order to have a shot at contending for a playoff spot. In the last 10 games, the rest of the NL West is a combined 11-29. The chances that all of these teams continue to slump are not high.
Kemp will be replaced by Carl Crawford, who just returned from the disabled list himself. Since his return, Crawford has gone 0-for-11 with only one walk. Even though Kemp has not been firing on all cylinders, he has been a much better option than Crawford.
The All-Star break comes at just the right time for the Dodgers who will need the extra days off to get their team fit and back together. If they can maintain solid health in the second half and avoid injuries, the Dodgers have a legitimate shot at making the playoffs. However, if they rush players back only to be re-injured or if they have other freak accidents, they will crash like an old lawn chair underneath Shamu. Patience, solid rehabilitation and a little bit of luck will be the key ingredients to this recipe for success.