July 23, 2014

Dodger Kids Come Through with Series Sweep Against the Cards

Despite an up and down pitching performance by Chad Billingsley (mostly down), the Dodgers managed to squeak by the Cardinals io6-5 in the Sunday evening nightcap on ESPN in thrilling fashion.

The big moment in the game came in the bottom of the seventh, when 25 year-old rookie outfielder Scott Van Slyke powered a three run home run to left field to give the Dodgers a 6-5 lead. The bullpen then came through in exemplary fashion, with Javy Guerra, Josh Lindbloom and Kenley Jansen combining for a perfect seventh, eighth and ninth innings.

But what’s really remarkable is the performance of the young Dodgers that are stepping up for the injured Matt Kemp, Juan Rivera, Jerry Hairston, Jr., Mark Ellis and Juan Uribe. Take a look at the following stats for the time they’ve been in LA this year:

Elian Herrera: Batting .385 with a .429 OBP (he also went three for four today)

Jerry Sands: Batting .250

Justin Sellers: Batting .171 with one HR and one RBI

Scott Van Slyke: Hitting .333 with one HR and six RBI

It’s one thing for the Dodgers to continue to win an MLB-best 28 games, but it’s quite another to do it with so many starters out for an extended period of time.  Herrera has probably been the most surprising so far, but as long as he continues to get on base ahead of NL RBI leader Andre Ethier, the Dodgers will be in good shape.

Kemp, Uribe Move to the DL; Sands, Herrera Head to LA

The injury bug continues to hit the Dodgers this past week, with Matt Kemp going on the DL with a strained left hamstring and Juan Uribe also going down with a left wrist injury that seems to be nagging him from last season.

The result is a bunch of newcomers for LA.  In place of Kemp, the Dodgers brought up leftfielder Jerry Sands, who in 2011 over 61 games in LA batted .253 with 4 HR and 26 RBI (he also struck out 55 times). In Uribe’s place came young Elian Herrera, a 27 year old rookie infielder who per Rotoworld, is hitting .358, including a .381 on-base percentage and nine stolen bases so far….but over the past three seasons, the kid has swiped at least 30 bases.

Of course, Kemp and Uribe join Juan Rivera and Jerry Hairston, Jr. on the DL.

This also creates issues at third base and center field for Don Mattingly, although center looks ok with Gwynn as a solid option with experience and Ethier also a likely play (Andre got the start tonight).  Third base appears to be an even bigger Pandora’s Box than it was befor,e with the less than exciting options of Herrera, Justin Sellers and Adam Kennedy – none of which are hitting above .167 so far this year.

Now all the Dodgers have to do is find a way to survive the next two weeks and hopefully hang on to that six game lead in the NL West and hopefully the best record in baseball.

Update: I added the obligatory “celeb” shot of Jerry Sands with “The Voice” season 2 winner Jermaine Paul from before Saturday’s game.

Photo Credit: Jill Weisleder/Los Angeles Dodgers