Series preview: Diamondbacks at Dodgers

LOS ANGELES -- After this weekend’s series, the Dodgers will bid the Arizona Diamondbacks farewell (they don’t see them again until 2015) and good luck (six of Arizona’s next nine games are against the San Francisco Giants).

The fourth-place Diamondbacks have gone 5-8 against San Francisco and 4-12 against the Dodgers, but they could have a big impact on the NL West by playing spoiler for one of the teams.

Not that this should impact the race, but when asked about playing spoiler at the All-Star Game, plain-spoken Arizona catcher Miguel Montero, who has clashed with Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig, told ESPNLosAngeles.com, “I don’t know. I really like the Giants a little better than the Dodgers.”

That comment aside, if the Dodgers don’t make the playoffs, they can’t blame the schedule. The Giants are the only potential playoff team left on their schedule and the Chicago Cubs are the only non-division opponent left to play.

It would be helpful if the Dodgers could continue their mastery of Arizona. The bad news is this is one of those series in which Cy Young near-lock Clayton Kershaw won’t pitch. The good news is Zack Greinke (13-8, 2.72 ERA) and Hyun-Jin Ryu (14-6, 3.18) will.

It took a while for Arizona to announce its rotation for this series, but it will go with youngsters Chase Anderson (8-6, 3.75) on Saturday and, on Friday, Vidal Nuno (2-9, 4.46), the pitcher they got from the New York Yankees in exchange for Brandon McCarthy.

On Sunday, the Dodgers will face Trevor Cahill (3-10, 5.06), who has pitched well lately as long as he’s not facing the Dodgers, who roughed him up for eight runs in 3 1/3 innings on Aug. 26 in L.A.

The Dodgers pushed back Dan Haren's start, meaning he wouldn’t face one of his former teams (the Washington Nationals) but will face another one of his former teams (Arizona). Haren has pitched well against both Washington and Arizona, so the motivation appears to be simply a matter of allowing Haren extra time to recover. The 33-year-old is coming off back-to-back quality starts against two of the weaker-hitting teams in the league, the San Diego Padres and New York Mets.

Haren is 24 innings shy of giving himself the option of returning to the Dodgers next season at a salary of $10 million, but he has said he hasn’t decided if he will play in 2015 and that the vesting option is not a motivating factor for him in these final weeks. What will motivate Haren is trying to help the Dodgers get to the playoffs. His previous two seasons were with Washington, which disappointed mightily in 2013 and the Angels, who were World Series favorites after adding Albert Pujols in 2012 and finished in a distant third place.