Five For Five: A Mets vs. Dodgers Series Preview With Eric Stephen of True Blue LA

PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 15: Matt Kemp #27 of the Los Angeles Dodgers high fives Andre Ethier #16 after Kemp hit a two run home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the sixth inning of the Major League Baseball game at Chase Field on July 15, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Dodgers come into town tonight, as they face off for three games against the Mets. Since these two teams last met up, the Dodgers have gone just 5-8 and find themselves in 2.5 games behind the Giants in the NL West. They have a record of 49-44. The big difference this time around, though, is that the Dodgers have their two best hitters Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier back in the lineup. In order to get a better look at where the Dodgers stand, I sent a few questions over to Eric Stephen of True Blue LA and he was kind enough to answer them for us. (Note: we only did three questions this time).

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Amazin' Avenue: With Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier making their returns to the lineup last week, how has the offense looked so far? Considering how bad they looked a few weeks back, any worry regarding whether they have enough offense to stick around?

True Blue LA: The offense still has its issues. They have scored 19 runs in six games since the break, including two runs in four of the six games. On Wednesday against the Phillies they won 5-3 thanks to a Matt Kemp walk-off home run, but that game was tied 1-1 heading into extra innings. The Dodgers badly need help, as they are getting nothing on offense out of first base, third base, and shortstop. The next 11 days will see if they can bring in a bat or two at one of those positions, and that will determine whether or not they can remain in contention.

AA: What area(s) do you see the team looking to improve before the July 31 trade deadline and what do you see them being willing to give up?

TB: They will take a bat or two wherever they can get it. First base and third base are the priorities, but I think left field and shortstop are in play too. I don't think the Dodgers farm system has anyone that should be considered untouchable. Zach Lee (20-year old in Double A, first round pick in 2010) is the most highly coveted, but I think he would be moved if an impact bat became available, or someone with a few more years of control and not just a rental.

AA: Since these two teams last met up, which players have been playing well and which ones have been struggling?

TB: Basically Andre Ethier (.350/.409/.500, one home run) and Matt Kemp (.348/.348/.522, one home run) have been just fine since their return from the disabled list, as they didn't face the Mets at Dodger Stadium. Juan Uribe actually got a hit since the Dodgers last played the Mets! A double, even. But unfortunately that is Uribe's only hit in his last 37 at-bats.

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Thanks again to Eric for answering these questions for us! Here are the pitching matchups for this series:

July 20th, 7:10 PM: Johan Santana vs. Aaron Harang

July 21st, 1:10 PM: Miguel Batista vs. Chris Capuano

July 22nd, 1:10 PM: Jon Niese vs. Nathan Eovaldi

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