- Mark Saxon, ESPN Staff Writer
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Clayton Kershaw, LHP: Just give him the MVP already! Kershaw’s week was pretty much reminiscent of each of his other weeks. He dominated two opponents and got the Dodgers two games closer to winning the NL West. Seems like what an MVP does, right? Kershaw held the San Diego Padres to a run on three hits Thursday, then held the Arizona Diamondbacks to one unearned run on six hits Wednesday. Combined, he pitched 16 innings with 20 strikeouts.
Kenley Jansen, RHP: It’s a pretty good thing when a Dodgers starter can go eight innings, because that means Don Mattingly can just hand the ball to Jansen, who tends to strike out everybody he faces lately. Since June 21, Jansen has struck out 38 batters while walking only four. It’s no wonder Jansen has saved 18 of his past 19 chances. Wednesday night in Arizona, he picked up his 100th career save. It looks like he’s going to have a good career pitching the ninth inning, and the Dodgers will ride their homegrown closer as far as he can take them.
Matt Kemp, RF: It’s not just the numbers, though those have been good enough. Kemp is batting .295 and has hit eight of his 16 home runs since the All-Star break. What’s more encouraging is that the Dodgers think he is moving better, a good sign that he's emerging from a long period of decline caused by injuries. After playing pretty awful center and left field, he seems to have found a home in right, and the Dodgers’ defense is better for it.
Yasiel Puig, CF: On Wednesday, Mattingly said the team is concerned that Puig sometimes loses focus in center field. Maybe that’s because he’s in a miserable funk at the plate and thinking too much about it? Puig’s season has swung like a pendulum month to month. He batted .398 in May and .248 in June. He led the majors in slugging in July and has two extra-base hits all of August. The Dodgers are fairly functional offensively right now, but they’re largely doing it without their first-half MVP.
Kevin Correia, RHP: He had a nice first start after the Dodgers acquired him from the Minnesota Twins, leading to hope that he simply needed to be in a winning environment to thrive. Since then, he has been even worse than his 4.94 Twins ERA suggested, giving the Dodgers just eight innings combined in his past two starts. He has also given up 15 hits and nine earned runs in those starts. Now, it looks like he’s headed for the bullpen, and it’s unclear how much value he can bring as a long man.
Hanley Ramirez, SS: Since coming back from the disabled list, he’s 1-for-12 with five strikeouts. The Dodgers have to put him back in the lineup because his bat is such an upgrade over Miguel Rojas’, but Dodgers pitchers might soon be missing Rojas’ glove, especially if Ramirez doesn’t start hitting.
2dWalter Villa, Special to ESPN.com