Matt Kemp’s ailing hamstring, which he aggravated in last night’s Dodgers loss against the Brewers, has once again forced him to the DL. Kemp had an MRI done this morning, and it was revealed that he had a grade 1 strain, which was the same as he had before, as well as the mildest type of strain. Kemp will apparently be missing four weeks at minimum. To replace Kemp on the roster, the Dodgers have called up Alex Castellanos, an infielder, from AAA Albuquerque. In 22 games this year, Castellanos has a 1.235 OPS and five homers in the notorious hitter’s haven.
Even though the Dodgers went 9-5 during Kemp’s last DL stint, they can’t afford to be without him for any substantial period of time. The starter while he was injured, Tony Gwynn Jr, will likely be taking over the starting role in center field once again. Gwynn is a gifted fielder, but his offense leaves a lot to be desired. He has a .662 OPS this year (and a .644 OPS for his career), and hasn’t homered at all. It’s not even fair to compare him to Kemp, who has a 1.163 OPS (a whopping 500 points higher than Gwynn) and 12 homers.
Could Castellanos start in center for the Dodgers? Sure, but I don’t think it would work out too well. First off, he’s an infielder (not an outfielder, especially in the toughest position of the outfield). Secondly, Castellanos just came back from a hamstring strain of his own on Sunday that kept him out for a month. I’m sure that rushing him into center field wouldn’t be a very wise decision given the uncertainty surrounding Kemp’s hamstring. Starting Castellanos at second or third base could be a valid plan though, as the Dodgers are currently rotating the scrappy trio of Jerry Hairston Jr, Adam Kennedy, and Elian Herrera at the two positions. Castellanos provides much more offensive firepower than all three of those hitters combined, and could make a half-decent substitute for Kemp in the lineup while he’s hurt.
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