Hey, you guys remember the long-ago times of this morning when I half-seriously mentioned that Skip Schumaker might be the starting center fielder in the playoffs but that I wasn’t really worried about it, because all signs indicated that Matt Kemp would be there? I think I also said that “Kemp’s health absolutely cannot be counted on,” and now I’m realizing that there is no higher power and we’re all going to die alone, cold and unloved.
This is all coming back now because we just learned that not only will Kemp not play in Game 1, he won’t play at all, having now been shut down for the entire season thanks to his sore left ankle, going so far as to say “if I keep playing on it, my ankle could break”. David Vassegh adds that Kemp learned the news in the “3rd or 4th inning” today, after an MRI that Eric Stephen tells us showed “major swelling in one of the weight-bearing bones”, which (this one via Bill Shaikin) may need about a month to heal. Dylan Hernandez adds that Kemp will also have cleanup surgery on the shoulder that started this run of injuries, and WHY CAN’T WE HAVE NICE THINGS?
It’s important to remember that the Dodgers played without Kemp for basically the whole year anyway, and the majority of that incredible second-half run came without him, so it’s not like hope for the playoffs dies with him. But the larger problem here is that Andre Ethier — who managed to man center field surprisingly well while steadily improving his offensive production — is still far from a definite to play with an ankle injury of his own, and may be limited to pinch-hitting since he can’t show that he’s able to run at full speed. (And as much as I’ve been willing to credit Ethier for playing a reasonable center when I thought he had no prayer of doing so, the thought of a limited Ethier out there is just terrifying.)
This is still a good team, don’t forget. It’s still a team with Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-jin Ryu, and Kenley Jansen on the mound; they still have Adrian Gonzalez in the lineup, and Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig have both been far more productive than Kemp or Ethier at the plate this year. So this is far from a knockout blow, and it’s important we remember that, even if this might bring the double whammy of getting Jerry Hairston onto the playoff roster.
But man… the season ended something like an hour ago, and we’re not really enjoying the anticipation for the playoffs, are we? I’m think people are freaking out. I’m not sure they’re wrong. “Skip Schumaker, starting center fielder” tends to have that effect.