Making the turn
Dodgers can continue to surprise
Matt Kemp has essentially been out for two months. Andre Ethier carried the team for as long as he could, before his body betrayed him too. Mark Ellis could've lost a leg. Juan Uribe has never really been healthy (or good) and it seems like half the team dealt with a hamstring injury at some point during the first half of the season. The Dodgers haven't just been battered and bruised, they've been bludgeoned by injuries this season. But somehow, they're still in first place in the NL West.
I'm not sure how they had the best record in baseball for as long as they did. A lot of smoke, a lot of mirrors, I suppose. But as difficult as they've been to watch the past few weeks, let's not forget how good they were when they had all of their key guys healthy.
That is goal No. 1 during the All-Star break. Get there in one piece, come out of the break put back together again with Kemp, Ethier and Ellis back in the lineup every day.
That lineup might not have scared people out of spring training, but it quickly became one of the best in baseball. If the Dodgers can get back to that, if they can get back on that roll, they could have a second half to remember.
Get ready for the Angels' fireworks
It would be easy to assume there's nowhere to go but up for the Dodgers after their performance heading into the All-Star break. After all, they're expected to get Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier in the not-so-distant future and have reclaimed their place atop the NL West after finally scoring a few runs. The problem is they still won't be able to keep up with the re-energized Angels.
Not only do the Angels have the best record in baseball since Mike Trout was brought up on April 28, but they are a team with a strong young core that's only going to get better as the 20-year-old Trout, who will win the AL Rookie of Year this season, and the 26-year-old Mark Trumbo, who should have been the AL Rookie of the Year last season, get more comfortable.
While the TNT tandem of Trout and Trumbo continue to get better, Albert Pujols (oh yeah, remember him?) will also start playing like one of the greatest hitters of our generation. It was predictable for Pujols to have a slow start after coming to a new team and a new league, but there's no way that kind of drought will continue for one of the purest hitters this game has ever seen.
While the Angels continue to rise and become the World Series-contending team we all expected them to be, it's easy to see a scenario in which the Dodgers plateau and fall short of making the playoffs.