by Joshua Worley
Kemp and Loney get zero starts combined in the series in Toronto. To quote from the global warming commercial the state of California just paid to be aired, that's not just a fact, it's a choice. And that makes it almost worse than any sweep. When the Dodgers get swept, it's not just that they played poorly: the opponent also played well. There was a contest on the field and though the Dodgers tried to win, they failed. That's not necessarily disheartening, though it's usually disappointing. But when Loney and Kemp are shut out of a series, never allowed to start, that is something the Dodgers did all by themselves, and that is disheartening and depressing.
I don't know, maybe Grady could forsee that the evil Toronto turf would injure either of those young players if they played. Loney did have that collision with the wall on Suday, but you know, I have a feeling he wouldn't have started in this series even if that didn't happen. It's hard to imagine that either of these players are going to get the playing time at the big league level they need when neither starts once during an entire series. That doesn't mean it won't ever happen. The better part of me still hopes for it. But I have to wonder what conditions will have to prevail for it to happen. I suspect that only an injury will get Loney or Kemp the playing time they need. Does that mean I should hope for an injury?
No! And yet ... I think about the rubber game of the Toronto series going on as I type this, in which Billingsley got the start, and I realize that I'm very happy to finally see Billingsley start, after two and a half months of bullpen exile, and then I remember that to get my wish for him to start another pitcher had to be injured. I certainly didn't want to see Schmidt injured, and yet that's what it took. Injury made the choice to start Billingsley. ( That, and some very basic sense that Tomko and Hendrickson weren't good choices. )
I think it was a good idea to start the year with Billingsley in the bullpen, to limit the number of pitches he would make this season, though I don't think I would have done it. I want to see the promising young players right away. Yes, they need to first show they belong by excelling in the minor leagues. But once they've climbed the ladder, it's time to play them. Unless there is someone obviously better blocking them, it's time to play them. That doesn't seem to be the Dodger philosophy, though.
Matt Kemp is batting now. To give Grady the credit he deserves, at least Kemp has had at bats in every game even if he hasn't started. Kemp is just so talented, such raw power and speed ... and here he grounds out to second, except the second baseman can't field it cleanly as he goes to his left, and once a fielder bobbles a Kemp grounder he can forget about throwing, so fast is Kemp. Kemp safe at first.
I want to see more of that. I just don't want to have to hope for an injury to see it happen.
update: And then Kemp displayed his incredible power in his second at bat, hitting a ball I was sure would just be a fly out to center field that carried, and carried until it was a booming double. What a player! So fun to watch! Please, Grady. Play him. Free the Bison.