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Just a couple of weeks ago, Matt Kemp was holding the Los Angeles Dodgers back.
Now Matt Kemp is just holding the Los Angeles Dodgers up. Between September 1 and September 25, the Dodgers were 8-11, the St. Louis Cardinals were making their awkward way to the National League Wild Card, and Matt Kemp looked like a disaster at the plate. Over that span he hit .167, with two home runs, three walks (against 23 strikeouts), and an OPS south of .500.
On September 26, the Dodgers beat the San Diego Padres 8-2, Matt Kemp went 4-5 with a home run and four RBI, and neither has looked back since. The Dodgers have won five straight, pushing the NL Wild Card race to the last series of the season, and Kemp has gone 11-20 with three doubles, four home runs, nine RBI, and seven runs scored. That's a line of .500/.591/1.300, if you were keeping track.
The Dodgers' unwillingness to sit their MVP candidate might have cost them dearly for the first three weeks of September. Now he's the main thing standing between them and elimination from the NL Wild Card race. With one series left, the Cardinals' magic number sits at two Monday afternoon. The Dodgers' destiny is, at least technically, out of Matt Kemp's hands; the Cardinals will have to lose at least two to the Cincinnati Reds to avoid clinching. But if they're going to win out, he'll have a lot to do with it.