It's August, and those lofty World Series aspirations the Dodgers and Angels had in spring training haven't diminished. If anything, they've only grown stronger.
When the Freeway Series renews — with two games at Chavez Ravine beginning tonight followed by two in Anaheim — it will be a measuring stick for the Dodgers and Angels. Can each team keep up with one of the best (by record, at least) in the other league? Do the Angels have the starting pitching to match arguably the National League's best rotation? Was the Dodgers' lack of activity at the trade deadline justified?
Here's a look at how the two teams stack up:
Angels >> Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton anchor one of baseball's most dangerous lineups. Good pitching can beat the Angels, but it doesn't happen often.
Dodgers >> Matt Kemp and Adrian Gonzalez began July looking badly overpaid; both ended July on a hot streak. For now, that gives the Dodgers a chance to match the top of the Angels' lineup.
Angels >> They'll shift more than the Dodgers and, for the most part it, will work. Hank Conger is among the best pitch-framing catchers in baseball.
Dodgers >> Moving Yasiel Puig to center field and Kemp to right worked well for both parties, but Hanley Ramirez is still a major liability at shortstop.
Angels >> Ace Garrett Richards has always dominated NL teams (2-0, 0.95 ERA), while Wednesday starter Matt Shoemaker pitches his best against big-name opponents.
Dodgers >> If the Dodgers had acquired a starter at the trade deadline, Dan Haren might not be starting Wednesday. He's running out of time to get untracked.
Angels >> Anaheim relievers have a 1.56 ERA since the All-Star break, and Huston Street has taken naturally to the ninth inning. Comeback wins will be difficult.
Dodgers >> They've been hit or miss, but closer Kenley Jansen and set-up man J.P. Howell can turn any contest into a seven-inning game.
Angels >> Efren Navarro and Collin Cowgill hit well enough to start for many teams; neither will start (probably) with no DH at Dodger Stadium. John McDonald is a defensive whiz.
Dodgers >> Andre Ethier and Justin Turner hit well enough to start for many teams; neither will start (probably) with no DH at Dodger Stadium. Miguel Rojas is a defensive whiz.
Angels >> Mike Scioscia has spent more time in an Angel uniform than a Dodger uniform, but no one questions his ability to manage in an NL park. He's one of the smartest.
Dodgers >> Two games in Anaheim present the interesting question of who should DH. A better question: What will Don Mattingly do if Josh Beckett and Haren continue to struggle?
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