It's only mid-May, but the clock is ticking on the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Currently 8.5 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West, the D-backs' lackluster 16-22 start has applied pressure early in the season to "get their act together". Overcoming a double-digit deficit in the standings is never easy, so Kirk Gibson's club finds itself in a tenuous position less than one-fourth of the way through the schedule.
There is hope on the horizon: center fielder Chris Young, shortstop Stephen Drew and starting pitcher Daniel Hudson are all getting closer to returning from injuries. Getting three main cogs back will undoubtedly give the Diamondbacks a boost.
But until then, the D-backs have been presented with another golden opportunity to try and exploit. Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, the best player in baseball not named Josh Hamilton, is on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring for the next two weeks.
And quite simply, the Dodgers' offense stinks without Matt Kemp.
Don't believe me? In the three games Kemp has missed since being shelved, the Dodgers have scored a total of six runs, are batting .229 and are 1-for-14 as a team with runners in scoring position.
With Kemp in the middle of the lineup this season, the Dodgers averaged 4.5 runs per game and hit .272 with runners in scoring position.
It's admittedly a tiny sample size, but Kemp's absence has already been felt.
During an offensive struggle, teams will talk about keeping a positive attitude and approach and will look inward to cure their ills. The Diamondbacks are saying and doing those things, which is the right approach.
But the D-backs have also had a wide door opened up for them, and Kemp's injury and the Dodgers' offensive difficulties could make Arizona's climb out of the hole they've dug for themselves a little easier to get out of.