The freeway series resumes Friday night as the Los Angeles Angels make the trek from Anaheim to Chavez Ravine to take on the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Angels won two of three against the Dodgers last week in Anaheim. The Los Angeles Dodgers are -162 over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday.
Friday is a big day for the Dodgers; it’s the first time all season they’ve woken up alone in first place in the NL West. After a slow start, the Dodgers kicked it into another gear in June. They have continued their strong play in July, winning eight of their first 11 games, pushing them half a game above the Diamondbacks.
The Angels, meanwhile, are barely clinging to hope that they can make a playoff push. Thursday’s win over the Mariners keeps them two games over .500 but leaves them 10 games behind Seattle for the second wild-card spot. With over a dozen players on the DL, hope is slowly fading for the Angels in 2018.
First Start Back
Dodgers rookie Walker Buehler will return from the DL and get the start on Friday. Buehler went to the DL a month ago with a microfracture in one of his ribs. He returned to make one relief appearance at the end of June but was knocked around for five runs in one inning of work. Buehler was immediately returned to the DL after that outing. This time around, Buehler made a rehab start, so the Dodgers should feel comfortable that he’s ready to pitch in the majors.
Prior to the injury, Buehler was 4-1 with a 2.63 ERA across his first nine big league starts. This will be his first time facing any of the Angles hitters, including Mike Trout and a suddenly hot Albert Pujols. But aside from those two, no one in the Angels lineup is in particularly good form right now aside from their 11-run performance against the Seattle bullpen on Thursday.
Filling the Gaps
With the Angels losing so many pitchers to injury this year, Felix Pena is helping to fill-in as a starter. Pena will make his fifth career start on Friday after pitching solely as a reliever in the majors up until a month ago. However, he’s made 87 career starts in the minors. He’s also posted a 2.75 ERA over his four starts with the Angels. Of course, he’s not completely stretched out, so the most the Angels can expect of him is lasting five innings.
Pena got the start against the Dodgers last Friday, giving up two runs on three hits over 5.1 innings while striking out eight. The Angels would lady take that kind of outing again, but that may be easier said than done. The Dodgers have enough good hitters to give Pena trouble, especially after they got a chance to see him last week.
Rocking the Halo
Friday’s game feels like a tossup. Buehler is a great talent, but he is also coming back from an injury. On the other hand, Pena is new to starting but looked good last week against the Dodgers. The deciding factor here is that the Angels held the Dodgers to just eight runs in three games last weekend while the Halos are feeling good about their 11-run outburst on Thursday. Bet the Los Angeles Angels as the underdog over the Dodgers on Friday.