As news broke yesterday that Matt Kemp would be unavailable for the Dodgers’ playoff run due to a recurring ankle injury, the natural reaction in LA was disappointment.
The same feeling could be attributed to growing speculation that the Dodgers will also be without Andre Ethier thanks to a shin injury that has sidelined him for more than two weeks.
All of a sudden, the problem of “which outfielder to bench?” has become “who is the third outfielder?”
But relax Dodger fans and set aside your disappointment and worry — the answer is (and always has been) pitching.
Sure, the Dodgers lineup would have been fierce with Crawford, Puig, Ramirez, Kemp and Gonzalez in the middle (and it still will be without Kemp or Ethier), but hitting was never the thing that made the Dodgers the favorites in the National League.
That, my friends, was pitching.
Trivia question: among all NL teams in the playoffs, which four players have the best ERA?
Answer: Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Adam Wainwright and Hyun-Jin Ryu.
That’s right — three of the four best starters in the NL playoffs are on the same team.
Atlanta’s best starter?
Number six on the list.
But what about the bullpen, you might be thinking?
Among players with at least 60 innings pitched this season, the Dodgers have the relievers with the fifth and sixth best ERA this season (Kenley Jansen and JP Howell). Of course, that list doesn’t include Brian Wilson and his 0.66 ERA (due to his lack of innings pitched).
So sure, the loss of Kemp and Ethier will hurt.
But until anyone figures out how to hit off Kershaw, Greinke, Ryu, Jansen and Wilson, I like the Dodgers chances.
In case you missed it, here’s the Dodgers pool celebration, PLUS Yasiel Puig’s celebration dance off!