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With or without Kemp, the Dodgers keep winning

By Danny Knobler | Baseball Insider
With contributions from non-marquee players like Chris Capuano (8-2), the Dodgers maintain MLB's best mark. (US Presswire)


PHILADELPHIA -- The Dodgers are determined to trade for a pitcher, we hear.

The Dodgers want to add a hitter, too, we hear.

Hey, has anyone noticed that the Dodgers have the best record in baseball with the group they have? Has anyone noticed that their winning percentage in the games almost-MVP Matt Kemp has missed (.619) is starting to approach the great record they had in the games Kemp played (.639)?

No one else in baseball is playing even .619 ball, let alone .639.

Yes, I know, they've benefited from a weak division and a favorable schedule. Yes, I look at the lineup and wonder how they're doing it.

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"Somehow, it's come together," said Chris Capuano, the starting pitcher now tied for the National League lead with eight wins.

Yes, I hear the voices of rival executives and scouts, predicting the Dodgers' demise.

But eventually, Kemp is coming back. Eventually, with the support of an ownership group with money to spend, the Dodgers will probably add that pitcher and that hitter.

"If it's a glaring big upgrade, how do you say no?" Andre Ethier asked Wednesday, before a typical Dodgers' 6-5 victory against the Phillies.

And if it's a hitter to add to Ethier and (eventually Kemp) in the middle of an otherwise-nondescript lineup ...

"Obviously, we know that whether it's in July or the offseason, we need to get another big bat," Ethier said. "It's tough going out there with just two big guys. You like to have that third one."

Did you notice that Ethier talked about adding a big bat by this winter, and not about subtracting one? Yes, he's a free agent at the end of the year, but with the way things are going here, do you really expect them to let him leave?

"It's an exciting time for players, and even more for the fans," Ethier said, refusing to add any more hints.

Ethier, like many of his teammates, mentions great chemistry as a big reason for their success. The Dodgers can sometimes sound a little like the Rays, who attribute their success to pitching and magic.

And what better team to credit magic (or Magic, as in new owner Magic Johnson) than the Dodgers?

"I don't think it's magical," manager Don Mattingly insists. "It's how you play."

True, but the Dodgers do seem to be better than the sum of their parts. If it's not magic (or Magic), then it's at least a credit to that chemistry -- and to Mattingly.

Mattingly agreed with some of his players that the second time they lost Kemp (who reinjured his hamstring in only his second game off the disabled list) was tougher than the first time.

"It kind of took the wind out of their sails that night," Mattingly said. "You could feel it."

Soon enough, though, the Dodgers got back to winning. They've come from behind for each of three straight one-run wins over the Phillies, which they take as a sign that things are back to normal.

"We always play like that," Mattingly said. "That's kind of been our formula."

The Dodgers lead the majors with their 16 one-run victories.

"Even when Matt was here, we weren't blowing anyone away," Ethier said.

No, they just win. They just keep winning, with Kemp or without him.

If the second time he went down was the big test, so far the Dodgers are passing it.

They still have a while to go before Kemp returns. Presumably, they still have a while to go before the expected trades bring them help.

But something's going right here. Something . . . could it be magic?

Or just Magic.

 
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