D-backs @ Dodgers April 14, 2017: Kershaw vs. Greinke

Photo: Stacie Wheeler

After going 2-4 on a rough and windy road trip, the Dodgers are relieved to be back at Dodger Stadium to open a three-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks and begin a lengthy 13-game stretch against NL West opponents.

The Dodgers’ offense looked more dormant than the brown ivy clinging to the outfield wall at Wrigley Field during the series against the World Champions. They went 1-for-24 with runners in scoring position and stranded 26 batters in the three-game set. If it were not for their excellent pitching-both from their starters and their bullpen-they could have easily returned to LA below .500 on the season.

The big story for Friday’s series opener is the highly anticipated pitching matchup between former teammates Zack Greinke (1-0, 2.31 ERA, 2.87 FIP) and Clayton Kershaw (1-1, 3.46, 4.80 FIP). Co-aces for three seasons, this is the first time they have been matched up against each other. The duo were brilliant together while it lasted, harkening us back to the days of Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale. Ultimately the Dodgers did not want to shell out as much money as the D-backs were willing to, and Greinke left for the desert with a 6-year $206.5 million deal.

D-backs
Dodgers
7:10 p.m.
Los Angeles
CF
 Pollock
LF
Toles
RF
 Owings
SS
Seager
1B
 Goldschmidt
3B
Turner
LF
Tomas
1B
Gonzalez
2B
Drury
2B
Forsythe
3B
 Descalso
C
Grandal
SS
Ahmed CF Pederson
C
Mathis
RF
Puig
P
Greinke (R)
P
Kershaw (L)

The good news is that the last time the Dodgers faced old friend Greinke, they clobbered him. Greinke’s return to Dodger Stadium saw him serve up five homers and eight runs. As much as I enjoyed Greinke as a Dodger, and I don’t wish him any ill will, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I would be thrilled with another double-digit victory over the quirky right-hander.

Greinke is off to a solid start to the season for Arizona, but last year he struggled with his new team and home ballpark, finishing the season with a 4.12 FIP and 101 ERA+. He also allowed 23 home runs in 26 starts, the most in his career since his first two seasons in the majors with the Royals back in 2004 and 2005.

Overall, Greinke is 3-2 with a 3.80 ERA against the Dodgers in seven career starts. Corey Seager has five hits including a double and two home runs in eight at-bats against Greinke.

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Meanwhile, Kershaw is 12-8 with a 2.75 with 168 strikeouts in 147 1/3 innings and 24 career starts against the D-backs. He’ll have to be wary of the perennial Dodger destroyer Paul Goldschmidt who has hit two homers off Kersh and is hitting .314/.377/.570/.947 with 24 home runs vs. LA in his career. Kershaw has already allowed four home runs this season, half the total amount he allowed all of last season. He is yet to allow a walk this season and has struck out 14 batters in his first 13 innings of work.

When asked about the matchup, the two aces (and friends) had very different reactions.

“I want to face him,” Greinke said, “just to see how nasty he is. He’s so competitive that if I started taking it lightly, it would be a bad game plan. He has a great mindset. A great work ethic. He does everything as perfect as you’d want a pitcher to do.”

“I’ll just try and block it out,” Kershaw said of the matchup. “It’s not fun to pitch to people you know. I’m not good at separating that. I’m just going to have to focus and really think about it like he’s another guy. Then the next day I can talk to him.”

The marquee pitching matchup between Kershaw and Greinke for Friday’s series opener at Dodger Stadium makes for great headlines, but the Dodgers’ offense needs to be top of the bill in this series in order to counter Arizona’s bats who have been red hot through their first 10 games, leading the league with 55 runs scored.

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Pedro Baez rejoins the Dodgers. He was injured in Spring Training when he was hit with a ground ball on his hand and placed on the 10-day disabled list with a right wrist contusion when the regular season started.

Rich Hill‘s blister is on the mend.

About Stacie Wheeler

Stacie Wheeler

Stacie Wheeler, born and raised in So Cal, has been writing about the Dodgers since 2010. She wrote daily as the Co-Editor of Lasorda’s Lair for five long years, and she has also written for Dodgers Nation and Dodger Blue 1958. She currently contributes to The Hardball Times. Stacie graduated from the University Of Southern California with a bachelor’s degree in Cinema-Television. You can also watch her videos on her YouTube channel, DishingUpTheDodgers.