It's hard to properly evaluate a Dodgers team that has been without Matt Kemp for 45 of their last 47 games.
Tuesday night marks the beginning of the second half of the season for the Dodgers, with game number 82. At 44-37 through 81 games, simple math tells us the team is on pace for 88 wins, which would be at the upper end of most preseason predictions.
Twelve losses in their last 14 games, and a six-homer June, have put a damper on hopes that this Dodgers team is in fact capable of winning 88 games, but in this long season, perhaps some perspective is needed.
- Matt Kemp hit 12 home runs in April, but despite missing 45 of the last 47 games he still leads the club in homers.
- Kemp, with 30 runs scored, is six behind Andre Ethier for the team lead.
- There are 10 Dodgers who have amassed more plate appearances than Kemp this season.
- The Dodgers won 44 games with Kemp playing just 44.4% of the time in the first half.
Kemp begins his rehab assignment as the designated hitter on Tuesday night with Class A Rancho Cucamonga. He is set to return in 10 days, when the Dodgers open their post All-Star break schedule at home against the San Diego Padres.
Ethier has missed the last five games, but even with his poor June he has pretty much been his normal self in the first half. The .291/.363/.480, 124 OPS+, .360 wOBA career hitter hit .291/.357/.491 with a 131 OPS+ and .361 wOBA in 75 games in the first half.
The Dodgers will get Mark Ellis back in a few days as well, though his replacements did a reasonable job while he missed seven weeks. Ellis hit .273/.373/.364 in 37 games, while other Dodger second basemen hit .271/.340/.359 with Ellis on the shelf, though Ellis should provide a boost defensively, and help stabilize the lineup.
But the big difference in the second half will be Kemp. It might be optimistic to put all of the Dodgers contention eggs into one basket - after all, the club will almost certainly make a trade or two in the coming weeks - but then again, with Kemp that is one big basket.
But for now the Dodgers look to simply get to the All-Star break without any further hemorrhaging. They have six games remaining before the break, including Tuesday night against the Cincinnati Reds. The Dodgers haven't won consecutive games since June 9-10 in Seattle, but they would settle for just one win first. Baby steps.
Tonight's Pitching Matchup
A pair of nine-game winners with sub-3.00 ERAs who as of now aren't headed to Kansas City next week take the mound Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium. Chris Capuano has pitched at least seven innings in each of his last three starts, and has been especially good at home this season.
Capuano has allowed 11 runs in eight starts at Dodger Stadium this season, never more than three in any one home start. He is 5-1 with a 1.87 ERA at home this season with 51 strikeouts and just 13 walks in 53 innings.
Johnny Cueto challenged Clayton Kershaw for the National League ERA lead last season but ended up six innings shy of qualifying with his 2.31 ERA last season. He has kept it up this year with a career-low walk rate (5.7% of plate appearances this year compared to 7.7% in his career) and a 2.26 ERA through 16 starts. However, his walk rate on the road this season (7.2%) is nearly double his incredibly stingy home walk rate (3.8%).
"I see that I have great numbers," Cueto told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. "I thought the way I pitched this year, I’d have a chance to go to the All-Star Game. I don’t know what happened. I don’t know if the manager of All-Star Game is pissed off at me because I went out with one of his girlfriends."
- A.J. Ellis has 42 walks through 81 team games. Three catchers in Dodgers history have walked 80 times in a season: Russell Martin (90 walks, 2008), Joe Ferguson (87, 1973), and Mike Piazza (81, 1996). Ferguson also played some outfield in 1973, but he has 75 of his 87 walks as a catcher.
- Jon Weisman looked back fondly at Pedro Astacio's complete game shutout major league debut, which took place 20 years ago today, for L.A. Magazine.
- Mike Petriello wrote a trading season primer on Monday at Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness.
- The Dodgers reportedly added another 16-year old on Monday with the signing of Dominican shortstop Cristian Gomez for "a low six-figure bonus," per Ben Badler of Baseball America.
Game Time: 7:10 p.m.