COMMENTARY | There is the old saying that you can't win the pennant in April, but you can lose it.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are walking the tightrope of having a lost season, one which has seen the Dodgers see multiple key members of the team go down with injury. In fact, the Dodgers have the second-highest amount of salary go on the disabled list this season, according to an incredibly infographic at the New York Times -- second to the New York Yankees.
Dodgers' replacements not stepping up
The Yankees, meanwhile, have survived the injuries thanks to some backups (and in some cases third-stringers) overachieving. The Dodgers' replacements, meanwhile, have not been hitting.
The Yankees essentially replaced Curtis Granderson with Vernon Wells. Wells has responded by being the best hitter on the Yankees, slightly better than even Robinson Cano. This from a player who hit .218 in 2011 and .230 last season.
When the Dodgers' Hanley Ramirez went down, he was replaced by Justin Sellers, who hit so badly that the Dodgers decided Dee Gordon had enough AAA seasoning and called him back up.
Lyle Overbay has replaced an injured Mark Teixeira at first base and has hit six home runs in his first 36 starts. Travis Hafner has equaled that mark from the designated hitter spot. Either would lead the Dodgers team.
Of course, it would be hard to see Wells, Overbay or Hafner continuing this torrid start.
Dodgers' Pitching Hit Hard
And the Yankees' starting pitching has been relatively unscathed.
The Dodgers have lost Zack Greinke, who may be back this week, for over a month, Chad Billingsley for the season, and Stephen Fife and Ted Lilly for an unknown period of time. Chris Capuano also spent some time on the disabled list with a strained calf.
Josh Beckett may be the next to hit the DL with a groin injury that forced him from the game against the Washington Nationals early.
The Yankees have lost Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda to the DL.
And, as with the hitters, the Yankees' replacements have contributed while the Dodgers generally have not.
Andy Pettitte has found the Fountain of Youth and has a solid 3.83 ERA through 7 games started. Meanwhile, Fife, Matt Magill and Ted Lilly all have ERAs over 5.00 and didn't win a game in a combined six starts.
Dodgers Playing Through the Pain
Then there is the case of the walking wounded for the Dodgers -- those who are suffering nagging injuries or recovering from injuries but still playing.
The biggest name here is Matt Kemp.
Kemp underwent shoulder surgery in the offseason and has not looked the same since. He has just one home run and a .277 batting average. The batting average would be a lot more acceptable if his power was back. But balls that Kemp in the past has punished for home runs have instead died on the warning track this year.
Kemp is, however, hitting better with a 12-game hitting streak. But even that is tempered by the fact that he has just two extra base hits on that streak -- both doubles.
As Kemp builds up strength in his shoulder, the Dodgers have to hope his power returns to 2011 levels.
First baseman Adrian Gonzalez has been suffering through a nagging neck injury. He has said it doesn't hurt while batting, but fielding has hurt it. This means he had a hard time staying on the field.
While the Dodgers finally called up Scott Van Slyke to give Gonzalez a break, the injury is something to watch to see if the Dodgers end up catching the Yankees for salary on the DL.
The bigger concern, however, is catching the Giants, who stand 7 1/2 games ahead of the Dodgers in the standings. If injuries continue to hamper the Dodgers, it is unlikely the Giants can or will be caught.
Matthew Reichbach is a freelance writer and lifelong follower of the Dodgers from their minor league affiliates to the major league club.
You can follow Matthew on Twitter at @3_2count.
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