The Angels showed promise early, while the Dodges have been much improved of late. And starting pitching injuries affected both clubs. Sunday's starting pitching matchup is an indication of the current state of both teams.
The Dodgers had four of their five season-opening starters on the shelf at one point, including Clayton Kershaw (3-4, 2.61 ERA), who went to the disabled list twice. Kershaw is back now and will start Sunday's first-half finale. The left-hander is 6-2 lifetime against the Angels with a 2.42 ERA over 10 starts.
The Dodgers are back as a team as well, going 36-15 since May 17 and 26-12 since the start of June. The winning ways actually started with pitchers like Kershaw and Rich Hill on the disabled list, not to mention Kenta Maeda and Hyun-Jin Ryu.
Kershaw, Hill and Maeda all are back and pitching well, while Ross Stripling turned a role as a replacement starter into his first All-Star nod. The Dodgers will head into the last game of the first half just a half game out of first place in the National league West.
"It's time to go; It's a great feeling," Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen said, according to mlb.com. "I'm using first place as my motivation every time I go out there. Everybody was saying how terrible the Dodgers' team is this year. Just use that as motivation."
The Angels are not feeling optimism as much as the Dodgers are these days, although a 5-4 victory in 10 innings on Kole Calhoun's go-ahead home run off Jansen on Saturday sure helps.
Angels starter Garrett Richards was just lost for the season with an elbow injury that will require Tommy John surgery. Rookie sensation Shohei Ohtani is back from the disabled list, but only as a hitter as his own elbow injury has halted his pitching schedule.
The Angels rotation is so in flux that they have not even named a starting pitcher for Sunday. They likely will go with right-hander Deck McGuire in the final game before the break. McGuire has made just two starts and five big league appearances this season.
How bad have injuries been for the Angels? They have placed a major league leading 22 players on the disabled list and their 14 players currently on the DL also leads baseball. They have used the DL 25 times, second most in baseball.
And pitching injuries aren't the only problem. A lack of lineup continuity has put the Angels in the bottom third of baseball with runners in scoring position.
"If you look at some of the internals, most of it's been positive as far as the process you'd like to see," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, according to the Los Angeles Times. "The results have obviously not been there. There's not one sugar pill you give to the whole offense."