Plenty went wrong for the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first half of the 2016 season. Injuries ravaged their starting rotation and forced the club to tap deep into their pitching depth, and several key contributors busted out of the gate at a snail’s pace.
However, through it all, the Dodgers entered the All-Star break on an three-game winning streak, 7-3 in their last 10 games, and a season-high 11 games over .500 at 51-40. Adrian Gonzalez, Howie Kendrick and Justin Turner rounding into form figures to bode well for the Dodgers in the second half.
So too does now having Brandon McCarthy and Hyun-Jin Ryu, the pending return of Clayton Kershaw, and the expected return of Brett Anderson.
While there are reasons for optimism in Los Angeles, they nonetheless begin the second half of their schedule 6.5 games back of the San Francisco Giants for first place in the National League West.
Speaking during media availability, All-Star Brandon Belt refused to count out the Dodgers in their quest for a fourth consecutive NL West title, per Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times:
“They’re a good team,” Belt said. “When you have players like they do and you can add [sidelined All-Star pitcher Clayton] Kershaw to that mix, they can sneak up on you at any time. I think they’ve played well here the past few weeks.”
While Belt expressed confidence his Giants, who own the best record in the Majors, are in good position to win the NL West, he reiterated so too are the Dodgers:
“I think we have a good chance to win this division. But I 100% believe they can come back on us. We have to be careful.”
San Francisco currently holds the edge in head-to-head meetings, going 6-4 against their longtime rival through the first three and a half months of 2016. The Dodgers and Giants don’t meet again until Aug. 23 for the start of a three-game series at Dodger Stadium.
They’ll square off in another three-game set at Chavez Ravine from Sept. 19-21, then close out the 2016 season with three games at AT&T Park, beginning Sept. 30. While the Dodgers are looking up at the Giants in the division standings, they lead the Wild Card race by 2.5 games.