Dodgers Hamstrung By Cubs As Injury & Bullpen Concerns Mount

On a gray, rainy day in Chicago that saw the start of today’s series finale delayed by nearly three hours due to inclement weather, the Dodgers might just have been better off not playing at all. Matt Kemp was scratched prior to the game with a sore left hamstring; not only was it the first time all season in which Kemp was absent from the lineup, it also really illustrated just how thin this lineup is without him, as Tony Gwynn was inserted hitting 8th and everyone else pushed up a spot.

Unfortunately, it quickly got worse. Jerry Hairston, one of the hottest Dodgers and just yesterday the subject of a Steve Dilbeck Los Angeles Times piece questioning the validity of sending him back to the bench if and when Juan Uribe is healthy, successfully beat out an infield hit to second but – wait for it – strained his left hamstring in the process. He was replaced by Adam Kennedy, and all of a sudden the Dodgers have a problem: with Uribe still bothered by his wrist and unable to hit more than once or twice a game, Justin Sellers shipped out for Bobby Abreu, and Hairston now limping, the Dodgers have just four healthy infielders. And of those four, two aren’t hitting at all and one is Adam Kennedy.

Ned Colletti joined the radio broadcast to say that Sellers was prepared to get on a plane to LAX without even getting into a game for Albuquerque pending an update on Hairston’s condition, but frankly I’m surprised he wasn’t at the airport the second Hairston pulled up lame. Whether or not Hairston requires a DL stint, you have to think that he’s going to need at least a day or two off (and likely much more), and we’re long past the time where messing around with trying to get Uribe healthy is worthwhile. Uribe doesn’t add much even when he can play, and all he’s doing now is eating up a roster spot. Sellers needs to be back up tomorrow, with either Hairston or Uribe disabled.

And if both infielders need to hit the DL? Well, options are limited. The only other two infielders on the 40-man roster are Alex Castellanos & Ivan De Jesus, but there’s injury considerations there as well. Castellanos is on the minor league DL with – stop me if you’ve heard this before – a strained hamstring, and DeJesus is just four games into his season after an oblique strain in spring training set him down for over a month. Beyond them, the Dodgers do have an open spot on the 40-man, but camp favorite Josh Fields has your typical brutal ABQ split, with Jeff Baisley not far behind.

If it seems that I’ve spent all this time talking about rosterbation instead of the game, well, I have, it just seems like much more of a big-picture concern. Aaron Harang pitched six reasonably effective innings and even drove in the first run of the game on a fielder’s choice; Juan Rivera finished off the Dodger scoring with his second home run of the year in the third, one of his three hits on the day. But the Kemp-less lineup stagnated after that, with just three singles in the ensuing seven innings.

Josh Lindblom & Kenley Jansen each pitched scoreless frames, allowing Javy Guerra to take a 3-2 lead into the ninth… and, well, look. I’m not going to rehash his inning. He’s clearly not getting the job done, and I’ll have more on that topic tomorrow. There’s just no reason to keep him in the ninth any longer; I’d argue, as I have for some time, that he was massively overrated after 2011 and that it was folly for anyone to view him as an elite reliever anyway. Jamey Wright got through the 10th unscathed before a nightmarish 11th that included him hitting pinch-hitting pitcher Jeff Samardzija and walking David DeJesus to force in the winning run. That said, I’m hardly going to get on Wright for that, because it’s no secret that he’s old & mediocre; it never should have come to him in the first place.

We’re not likely to hear about any potential roster or closer moves until tomorrow, but it’ll be a big day nonetheless as the Dodgers return home to face the Giants in the first home game of the Guggenheim era. Let’s see those stands packed, people.

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