The Los Angeles Dodgers return from a six-game road trip closer to last place than first place in the National League West. They begin a homestand by facing the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday for the start of a three-game set.
At 7-3 the Diamondbacks are off to one of their best starts in franchise history. The early NL West matchup is highlighted by a duel between former teammates Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw. Greinke signed a record six-year, $206.5 million contract with the Diamondbacks, after three seasons with the Dodgers.
He faced Los Angeles three times last season, including once at Dodger Stadium, though never started opposite Kershaw.
Greinke said he’s looking forward to stepping in the batter’s box against the three-time Cy Young Award winner, via Steve Gilbert of MLB.com:
“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.”
Kershaw, however, is not as keen on pitching to Greinke:
“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.”
Greinke’s start last season at Chavez Ravine was a forgettable outing. He surrendered a career-high five home runs and was chased in the fifth inning. Greinke was charged with eight runs on nine hits. The right-hander nonetheless said he was ‘comfortable’ during the start.
Kershaw allowed two runs and had 11 strikeouts in his lone start against the Diamondbacks last season, earning the win a 3-2 Dodgers victory. Greinke, who has only logged 405 plate appearances in his career, has never faced Kershaw.