When the Dodgers re-acquired Matt Kemp this past winter, some fans were ecstatic while others felt he would wreck the chemistry of the Dodgers’ locker room. Ladies and Gentlemen, the old locker room-wrecking malcontent has been replaced by the new, ingratiating and consummate teammate Matt Kemp. Matt Kemp has become fast friends with Justin Turner and even Cody Bellinger. On Justin Turner, who still has pain in his wrist, Ken Gurnick wrote this:
“I don’t know when I’m going to [hit]. It’s just a matter of when the pain goes away,” said Turner, whose absence has been felt on offense and defense. “Is it hard not to [play]? Yeah, it stinks. Whether we were 9-0 or 0-9, it would stink all the same, not being out there.”
Turner has continued running and throwing. Manager Dave Roberts said he was hopeful Turner would begin hitting next week.
“I’m in the best shape of my life,” Turner said. “I’ve had an extended spring training, with everything but swinging a bat– playing catch, running, lifting, fielding ground balls with my right hand, everthing.”
At that point, locker neighbor Matt Kemp saw the media swarming around Turner.
“What is going on? Leave him alone,” said Kemp. “He’ll be back, I promise. He’s going to come save us.”
That’s the Matt Kemp the Dodgers now have. Forget about the old fat, lazy, crotchety Matt Kemp. I’m talking about the Matt Kemp who “flew” into 2nd base for a double last night… sliding the last 15 feet on his belly and the Matt Kemp who finally got a pitch he could take out of the park and he did it.
Matt Kemp was a Dodger from 2006 to 2014, but I was never a big fan – that was when I had pressbox, field and lockeroom access and saw first hand what Matt Kemp was about. Oh, he could be charming at times, but there was always this edge. Not so much now. After the game, Kenley Jansen shouted “Matt is back!” … within earshot of teammate Matt Kemp, whose locker sits next to the Dodger closer’s.
“No…Kenley’s back!” Kemp returned with a grin. “It’s awesome,” Jansen said. “That’s my boy. It’s fun to see him back.”
When Matt Kemp arrived back to the Dodgers, he had ZERO value – if it wasn’t zero. it was close. But minus 40 pounds, getting into great shape and with the understanding he can be part of history, he is playing at a very high level… and he’s just getting warmed up. He is going with the pitches, not being “pull happy” and taking what the pitchers give him. His notoriously bad defense has been absent as well.
Matt Kemp is not a platoon player for the Dodgers, although his understudy will play a lot – at the end of games for defense and to give him a rest. This is not the Young Bison, but an Old Bison can still do damage. I have heard some fans predict he will be injured and of course ANYONE can be injured but historically speaking, Matt Kemp has averaged 526 AB’s over his career, including 2012 and 2013 when he missed significant time.
I believe that Matt Kemp has at least one… and maybe two good year left and I am talking .300 BA and 30 HR good! That brings me to another player who I predicted could have a career year and that is Hyun-Jin Ryu. It was a long road back for him and he has gotten most of his velocity back. There were times in 2017 when he pitched very well and others when he pitched very poorly. I believe that correlated with muscle memory, scarring and just pushing through small issues of the rehab process.
It is my belief that Ryu will have his best year ever as he pitches for another contract (not with the Dodgers). If he can pitch like that as the Dodgers #5, they will win a lot of those games. He looked like the old Ryu last night and I will hold high expectations out for him this year.
Maybe FAZ knew what they were getting in Kemp and Ryu… or maybe they just got lucky. At any rate, I will call Kemp and Ryu “The Standing Pats.”
- It was good to see CT3 and Seager get back-to-back jacks last night. They can cross those off their lists.
- Dodgers are 2nd in team ERA and #1 in WHIP.
- When this offense starts clicking on all cylinders look out.
- Now, all they have to do is figure out what to do with Joc…
MINOR LEAGUE NOTES
- Dean Kremer of RCQ went 5 scoreless innings last night and allowed 3 hits with 1 BB and 6 K’s.
- Omar Estevez, Conner Wong and Cristian Santana are all off the great starts with RCQ – all are over .300.
- Lux and Kendall are hitting .050 and .130 respectively. Both scare the Bejesus outt’ me.
- Ramon Rodriguez, Starling Heredia, Jared Walker and Romer Cuadrado are off to good starts at GLL – all over .300.
- At Tulsa, Angelo Mora and Conner Joe are hitting over .300 while Kaybear Ruiz is at .286. Will Smith is at .235 and Raley and Peters are around .200.
- Justin DeFractus has pitched 6 innings and allowed 0 runs at Tulsa, Shea Spitzbarth, Josh Sborz, Yadier Alvarez and Dennis Santana have ERA’s of 2.79 and below at Tulsa.
- At OKC, Taijeron, Locastro. Valera, Muncy, Brockmeyer and Peter are all above .300, while Toles and Verdugo are at .294 and .278 respectively. Stweart and Buehler both had good starts.
MINOR LEAGUE RECAP BY ALWAYS COMPETE
OKC beat Round Rock Express in walk off fashion…8-7. The Dodgers scored 4 runs in the 9th capped by Travis Taijeron walk off single. 2 batters prior, Alex Verdugo got his sole hit of the night, a two run bases loaded single to tie the score. The offense was led by Toles (double), Muncy (double, 2nd HR), and Taijeron. Toles and Muncy each had a 2 hit night, while Taijeron had a 3-3 night. Zach Neal started for the Dodgers and went 4 innings, allowing 2 runs, on 5 hits, 2 walks, and 5 strike outs. Neal was followed by 34 year old former Giant Guillermo Moscoso who gave up a grand slam to Christian Lopes in his 1 inning. Joe Broussard, Daniel Hudson, and Edward Paredes finished the game with Paredes getting the win. This was Moscoso’s first game in the U.S. since 2013. He went to Japan for three years, and then pitched in the Mexican League in 2017.
Willie Calhoun got his 1st HR of the season, but is off to a slow start with the Express. His 5 game slash line is .192/.222/.346/.568.
Tulsa lost 5-0 to Midland Rock Hounds (A’s) 5-0 behind 25 year old RHP, Joel Seddon. Seddon out-dueled Dennis Santana, allowing 3 hits over the 1st 7 innings to get the win. Santana also pitched very well after giving up a 2 run 2 out HR in the 1st inning. He allowed a single in the final 4 innings he pitched. Overall, he allowed the 2 runs on 3 hits, 2 walks, and 5 strike outs. Daniel Corcino and Brian Moran followed Santana allowing the final 3 runs for the final 5-0 score. The offense consisted of 4 hits including a double by Will Smith and another multi hit game for Kyle Garlick (2 singles). After a slow 0-9 start, Garlick has gone 6-13 in his next three games.
Rancho was also shutout last night, losing 1-0 to Stockton Ports (A’s). Dean Kremer started and pitched 5 shutout innings, allowing 2 hits, 1 walk, and 6 strike outs. Isaac Anderson relieved Kremer and gave up the sole run and absorbing his 2nd loss of the young season. Andrew Istler followed and finished the game. The Quake offense was limited to 4 singles, 2 by LF Cody Thomas.
The Great Lakes Loons suffered the third Dodger affiliate loss of the day, losing 10-4 to the West Michigan Whitecaps (Tigers). Max Gamboa started his second game for the Loons and went 4.2 innings, allowing 3 runs (2 earned) on 4 hits, 1 walk, and 3 K’s. But the wheels came off the bus after Gamboa left. Zach Pop followed with 1.1 IP, allowing 3 additional runs (2 earned), on 4 hits 0 BB, and 2 K, and then Jordan Pearce hit a granny off of Aneurys Zabala for the final 4 Whitecap runs. Devin Hemmerich finished for the Loons. Offensively, the Loons got 9 hits including 2 doubles (CF Brayan Morales and 1B Nick Yarnall). The offense was led by Carlos Rincon, Nick Yarnall, and Starling Heredia each with 2 hits apiece. After going 0-fer in his 1st, 19 year old Starling Heredia has a 5 game hitting streak, including 4 consecutive multi-hit games. He now has a 2018 slash line of .346/.370/.385/.755.
The low pitch count continues for the Dodger pitchers; Neal (71), Gamboa (69), and Santana (65). I was not able to get a pitch count for Kremer, but he went 5 innings. Contrarily, David Ledbetter (Round Rock) threw 88 pitches, and Joel Seddon (Midland) threw 89 pitches.