In need of offense, Dodgers call up top prospect Jerry Sands

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After barely eeking out a 2-1 win over the Cardinals on Sunday to avoid a four-game sweep at home, the Dodgers made a move to address their hitting problems Monday, calling up top prospect Jerry Sands from Triple-A Albuquerque.

Sands, 23, was one of the PCL’s hottest hitters in the early going, having already homered five times.  He was batting .400/.422/.875 with just three strikeouts in 10 games.  He drove in 17 runs all by himself.  The Dodgers, meanwhile, have scored 43 runs in 16 games.

With Sands up, the Dodgers will move away from the Tony Gwynn Jr.-Marcus Thames-Xavier Paul grabbag in left field.  Gwynn had been getting most of the playing time, but he was htiting just .256/.293/.359 in 39 at-bats.  Thames was doing better, but he’s a liability defensively.  Hopefully the club will give him starts at first base against left-handers, as James Loney was awful this spring and is only getting worse.  Paul was designated for assignment to make room on the roster for Sands.

Sands will be making his major league debut.  The 2008 25th-round pick opened last year in low-A ball, but he ended up finishing it at Double-A and hitting 35 homers along the way.  He projects as a 25-homer guy for the Dodgers, though he probably won’t hit for strong averages anytime soon.  Regardless, it’s the right move for the Dodgers to give him a try.  No one else was likely to step up and become an everyday guy for them.

Report: Steven Matz has been pitching through pain, may need elbow surgery

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Newsday’s Marc Carig reports that Mets starter Steven Matz has been pitching through pain for most of the season. He may need surgery to fix a nerve issue in his elbow. Matz was sidelined in spring training with an elbow injury and made his regular season debut on June 10.

Matz, 26, has struggled over 13 starts, posting a 6.08 ERA with a 48/19 K/BB ratio in 66 2/3 innings. Many were scrambling for explanations for his pitching woes and now they have it.

According to Carig, the Mets let Matz skip his bullpen sessions to help him pitch through the pain. Given the Mets’ shoddy history of dealing with injuries, that’s not a good look for the club.

Carig noted on Twitter that Jacob deGrom offers some optimism for Matz’s case. deGrom underwent right elbow surgery to repair ulnar nerve damage last September and bounced back to have a great season this year.

Clayton Kershaw’s simulated game went so well he threw an extra inning

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Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw was scheduled to throw three innings in a simulated game on Monday. That simulated game went so well, he threw an extra inning, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports. Kershaw will make a minor league rehab start next and could be activated towards the end of next week.

Kershaw, 29, has been on the disabled list since July 24 with a lower back strain. That put the pause button on another outstanding season. He’s carrying a 15-2 record with a 2.04 ERA and a 168/24 K/BB ratio in 141 1/3 innings.

The 87-35 Dodgers have run away with the NL West, needing some combination of 20 wins and 20 Rockies losses (19 for the third-place Diamondbacks) to officially clinch the division. While the Dodgers are all but mathematically assured of reaching postseason baseball, the club would still like to get Kershaw as ready as possible over the next month-plus.