LOS ANGELES – The marquee matchup of a weekend duel for first place was supposed to take place Friday before the Los Angeles Dodgers pulled a late switch and nixed a battle of aces.The Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw no longer will match up with the Arizona Diamondbacks‘ Zack Greinke in the second game of the four-game series at Dodger Stadium as fellow left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu will take his place for the Dodgers Friday night.It wasn’t that the Dodgers wanted to spread the pitching wealth around the series. In moving Kershaw to Saturday’s game against Arizona James Paxton Jersey , it will give him an extra day of rest with a month left in the season, but primarily it lines up his next outing against another National League West title contender in the Colorado Rockies.Article continues below ...“Every game is very difficult, but when you’re playing a division rival, that essentially counts as two games,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “To have the guys that you want in a particular matchup, that’s what we feel comfortable with.”The Dodgers lost to the Diamondbacks 3-1 on Thursday night to fall two games behind first-place Arizona in the division, while essentially putting more emphasis on Ryu’s start Friday.Greinke is still the Friday starter for Arizona. His August was not as good as his brilliant July, but he still arrives at his former home park with a 2.19 ERA over his last 10 starts going back to the beginning of July. His worst outing in that bunch came Aug. 13 when he gave up four runs over 6 1/3 innings in a loss to the Texas Rangers.But in his last outing Sunday against the contending Seattle Mariners, Greinke (13-8, 2.93 ERA) went 6 2/3 innings without giving up an earned run and picked up his first victory since July 27. He is 6-4 lifetime against the Dodgers with a 3.84 ERA over 13 starts. This season Greinke is 2-0 with a 4.38 ERA in two starts against Los Angeles.Greinke is well aware that Arizona still has two series remaining against the Dodgers, counting this one http://www.stlouiscardinalsteamshop.com/authentic-marcell-ozuna-jersey , as well as two series against the Rockies. The D-backs also have games remaining with the Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs.“I don’t know about the strength of schedule, but it looks like we’ve got a lot of tough teams coming this month,” Greinke said, according to the Arizona Republic, “and play the people we’re competing against a lot, so it is going to be an intense last month, I’d expect.”In three starts since coming off the disabled list because of a strained left groin, Ryu (4-1, 2.18) has been impressive. In recent starts against the Giants, Cardinals and Padres he has a combined 2.30 ERA over 15 2/3 innings.Ryu is 3-3 with a 3.90 ERA in 12 career starts against the Diamondbacks, and he is 0-0 with a 5.40 ERA in two starts against them this season.Ryu has yet to throw more than 89 pitches in a start during his comeback, though Miles Mikolas Jersey , and the Dodgers could be forced to make an early call to a bullpen that has been a wild ride of late.Dodgers relievers struggled when closer Kenley Jansen was on the disabled list for 10 days in August with an irregular heartbeat. Jansen has struggled in four outings since he has returned, but the rest of the relievers have been better and the Dodgers just got right-hander Josh Fields back from a DL stint of his own because of right shoulder inflammation. Matthew Stockman/Getty ImagesThe Los Angeles Dodgers and Clayton Kershawagreed to a new three-year contract Friday that ensures he won't become a free agent until the end of the 2021 campaign, the team announced.TheNew York Post's Joel Shermanreported the deal is for $93 million.Kershaw had until 4 p.m. ET on Friday to decide if he wanted to exercise or decline the option in his contract. Had he opted out, he would have forfeited $65 million over the next two seasons."Honestly, I wanted to stay here," Kershaw said Saturday, per ESPN.com'sAiden Gonzalez. "Financial, everything aside, it was more valuable to me to stay here. I'm glad we got that done. I talked a lot with Ellen [his wife]. My kiddos love it here, Ellen loves it here, I love it here. I love the team here. There's not many opportunities that meet all the criteria that Ellen and I would be looking for."It gives me a chance to prove a lot of people wrong," Kershaw added. "I think this year especially鈥攎aybe rightfully so鈥攖here's been a lot of people saying that I'm in decline or I'm not going to be as good as I once was. I'm looking forward to proving a lot of people wrong with that."The 30-year-old has established himself as arguably the top starting pitcher in baseball.He has seven seasons with 200 strikeouts or more (and hit 301 strikeouts in 2015) Bud Norris Jersey , six seasons with a sub-2.50 ERA, three seasons with a sub-2.00 ERA and six seasons with a WHIP below 1.00. He's thrown 175 or more innings seven times and has eight straight years of double-digit wins (2010-17).He's led the National League in ERA five times, WHIP four times, wins three times and strikeouts three times.He's a seven-time All-Star,three-time Cy Young winner and was the 2014 NL MVP. He was the first pitcher to earn that honor in the National League since Bob Gibson in 1968 (Justin Verlander was the last pitcher to win AL MVP in 2011).Suffice it to say, Kershaw's value to the Dodgers is astronomical despite a rather inconsistent postseason track record. Overall, Kershaw is 9-10 with a 4.32 ERA across 24 playoff starts, including 0-2 with a 7.36 ERA over 11 innings against the reigning championBoston Red Sox in this year's World Series.Despite those flaws, the Dodgers negotiated a new deal with Kershaw to keep the perennial Cy Young candidate in Southern California.If he's able to maintain his elite level of pitching well into his 30s, that will not only be money well spent, but Kershaw may also go down as one of the most dominant pitchers in MLB history.
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