Despite Big Lead, All Is Not Rosie at the Magic Castle

The Dodgers started today with a 12-game lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks, but as the regular season is nearing an end and with the playoffs on the horizon, the Dodgers are not in the same position they occupied a week ago.

First and foremost, the starting pitching is in a bit of trouble. Injuries have now hit both Hyun-Jin Ryu and Chris Capuano, likely meaning more starts and innings for Edinson Volquez instead of the teams number three and five starters. Also, both Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez continue to nurse nagging injuries, though they do not seem to be affecting either’s performance on the field.

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But another injury has bigger ramifications, in a couple of different ways. Speculation not more than hours ago was that Matt Kemp would be rejoining the team following a brief rehab assignment. Instead reports are now that he has suffered yet another injury, this time a hamstring pull while working out at the team’s Glendale, AZ minor league camp. It may well be that Kemp’s season is now over, with him having come to bat 228 times and contributing five home runs and 27 runs batted in for the Dodgers.

However, his continued absence will relieve the empty uniform non-manager Don Mattingly from

having to figure out how to play and how to keep happy four outfielders over the rest of the season, while still focusing on what’s best for the team. One can just picture beads of sweat on Mattingly’s chin drying up.

Finally, there is for the first time in a couple of months questions about the Dodgers’ overall play. For the first time in weeks, the team is in a slump, having now lost eight of its last 11 games, including a current streak of three in a row, the last two to a playoff-most-likely team, the Cincinnati Reds. Not only have they lost these three games, but how they were lost is most disheartening – by blowing leads in all three games.

Today, the bullpen blew a game that Zack Greinke should have won. Leaving in the sixth inning with a one-run lead, the frequently dependable set-up crew of Paco Rodriguez and Ronald Belisario blew it, forcing extra innings, when Brian Wilson entered the game, and for the first time as a

Dodger, failed, allowing the losing run without recordingan out in the 10th inning. This was after the team blew yesterday’s game in Cincinnati when the also generally reliable J.P. Howell gave up a two-run home run to Joey Votto, turing around what had been a Dodgers’ 2-1 lead.

On Wednesday, the streak had started with a 7-5 loss to the Rockies, and even in that one, the Dodgers’ took an early 1-0 lead before Colorado scored the next four runs on the way to their win.

Has the bullpen been overworked and will this type of outcome continue into the playoffs? Can Brian Wilson, or even Edinson Volquez, step up to help?

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