Matt Kemp has been one of the most intriguing stories around Dodgers’ camp this spring. He came into camp with few expecting him to make the team, but his renewed work ethic has shown otherwise. Many thought if he would make the team it would be strictly as a platoon player, but Dave Roberts said on Friday that may not be the case.
Dave Roberts says the Dodgers could have playing time for Matt Kemp vs RHP, not just LHP, in LF.
— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) March 16, 2018
Kemp seemed like a good fit for a platoon with Andrew Toles and Joc Pederson both being left-handed. However, he has hit well enough this spring to potentially warrant more playing time. Kemp has slashed .364/.400/.788 with 4 home runs and 7 RBI’s coming into Friday. His splits do show that he’s been better against left-handed pitchers, but he’s done well overall this spring. He’s slashing .571/.625/1.429 with 2 home runs versus southpaws, but in only 7 at-bats. Against righties he’s slashed .308/.333/.615 with 2 home runs, in a slightly larger but still small sample size of 26 at-bats. If he can keep up that pace against right-handers, he may be worth starting in left full time.
Dodgers Maintain Precaution on Defense
The main concern with Kemp starting is his defense. After leaving the Dodgers and putting on some bad weight, his defense suffered tremendously. Kemp has lost a lot of weight this off-season, more than 40 pounds, but still lacks the speed he had in his younger days. Durability also remains a concern, as Kemp has had more than his share of injuries over the past 5 seasons.
With Andrew Toles also playing very well this spring, there’s a real competition for at-bats in left field. While they’ll likely end up splitting time, whoever plays best early in the season will likely see the majority of at-bats versus righties. While it’s still not a forgone conclusion that Kemp will even make the team, it seems more likely than ever. He still could be dealt to an AL team to be a designated hitter, but will likely begin the year in Los Angeles.
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