ANAHEIM, Calif. — Sir Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Physics says that “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
Let’s apply that notion to the 2013 Freeway Series:
Action: The Angels’ Jered Weaver makes his first appearance in seven weeks in Wednesday’s Game 3 following a left-arm fracture.
Reaction: The Dodgers place mightily struggling Matt Kemp on the 15-day disabled list as he seemingly hasn’t recovered from an off-season shoulder repair and a pesky hamstring injury.
Weaver’s return was outstanding as he held the Dodgers to just one run in six innings during his first appearance since the April 7 injury against the Rangers in Texas. He threw 86 pitches to give the Halos their first Series win after dropping the first two at Dodger Stadium. The Angels’ ace right hander had no problems the next day and is on schedule to face Houston at the Big A on Tuesday.
Kemp, on the other hand, remains a huge question mark for a Dodgers team that desperately needs the player who was the NL MVP runner-up in 2011 with 39 homers, 40 steals and a Gold Glove.
That version of Kemp has been a distant memory so far in 2013.
Off-season surgery to repair his left shoulder has left him without his vaunted power — he’s smacked just two home runs — and hamstrings that cost him 52 games on the DL last season are flaring up again. It’s imperative that the Dodgers keep him on the DL until he is 100 percent ready to go. Shoulder surgeries are the toughest for any major leaguer — pitcher or position player — to come back from. Just ask Kemp’s Dodger teammates Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez, who both admit they’ll never be the same player they were before going under the knife.
“I’ll never give up trying to be the great player I know I am,” Ramirez told the AP, “but something has never been the same since I hurt my shoulder.”
Ominous news for fans of Kemp — and the Dodgers.
Action: Don Mattingly is still managing the Dodgers
Reaction: Mike Scioscia is still managing the Angels.
That Mattingly is still employed by the Dodgers is an upset of sorts, as it was being reported often — and loudly — that a poor performance by his team against the Angels would spell his doom. Well, the Dodgers won two excellent games against the Halos to start the Freeway Series, then lost two very close contests and Donnie Baseball earned himself a little breathing room. But the heat is back on in the Rocky Mountains as the Dodgers head to Denver to face the Rockies in a weekend series
Scioscia was in far less trouble than Mattingly, but had the Angels imploded, team owner Arte Moreno would have been forced to do something to shake things up. Scioscia’s team won the final two games, and Weaver’s solid return took a lot of pressure off the manager — and pitching coach Mike Butcher.
Angel starters are 9-1 in their last 10 decisions, and they get to face the hapless — and hopeless — Astros and Cubs in the final six games of the homestand. Tommy Hanson (2-1) makes his return Friday night after spending most of May on the bereavement list following the death of his younger stepbrother.
Action: Jason Vargas becomes the first Angel pitcher ever to go 5-0 in May. Reaction: Hyun-Jin Ryu goes 3-1 with a 2.38 ERA in May.
After early struggles that saw him go 0-3 out of the gate, Vargas stepped into May — and into Weaver’s role and helped keep the Halos’ from sinking as they awaited the return of their ace. Acquired from Seattle for Kendrys Morales, Vargas went undefeated in May with a 2.30 ERA. He’s shown that the Angels are very solid with their top three starters, which is as much as a manager can ask for.
“Even on some of the best teams we’ve seen play,” Scioscia said,” to have three guys the caliber of Weave, C.J. (Wilson) and Jason is amazing. We feel very fortunate to have high quality pitchers like them healthy and competitive.”
The Dodgers feel the same about Ryu, especially considering that Chad Billingsley — out with Tommy John Surgery — was expected to be No. 2 on the depth chart. But it’s apparent that the big lefty from South Korea has moved easily into Billingsley’s rotation spot, and with his ability to throw gas and mix in breaking pitches, he could end up being an All-Star—and one of baseball’s biggest surprises in 2013.