The Dodgers will run into left-handed starting pitchers for their next two games, Sunday's series finale against the Rockies and Monday night's series opener in Cincinnati.
Jorge De La Rosa poses the first challenge, and for the Dodgers' offense, any opposing left-hander is a challenge, judging by the slash line of .207/.338/.282 against lefties entering Saturday's game in Colorado.
Prior to Saturday, left-handed hitters Andre Ethier (.192), Adrian Gonzalez (.174) and Dee Gordon (.208) had all struggled against southpaws, but so had right-handed hitter Matt Kemp (.129), who has feasted against them his whole career.
"His whole career, he's thumped them pretty good," manager Don Mattingly said of Kemp's track record against lefties. "I believe it's got to change. Usually you get back to what you've done your whole career."
Gonzalez's struggles are nearly as puzzling, as he is a lifetime .275 hitter against left-handers. Mattingly said he hasn't noticed any dramatic difference in Gonzalez's at-bats during his recent slide to a .254 overall average after a .337 April.
"A lot of good hitters get just a touch off," Mattingly said. "I feel when he gets hot, he'll be sizzling again. At times, he gets a bit out of the strike zone. I'd like to see him walk more. Sometimes he just wants to drive in those runs. But he's going to get hot again."
Gonzalez's first-base counterpart, Justin Morneau, acknowledged Saturday that he is in the difficult position of feeling good about his swing, yet seeing his numbers head south.
The return to Coors Field after the Rockies' 2-7 road trip was supposed to boost hitting numbers. But Morneau went into his start on Saturday against the Dodgers and Zack Greinke on a 1-for-15 skid in the first four games.
Morneau collected two hits and scored the winning run in the 5-4, 10-inning win.
During his rough patch, Morneau had seen line drives caught. A good first-ball hitter, Morneau had a couple of key at-bats go empty when he mis-hit first pitches. One play that should have been a hit -- a hard liner up the middle against the D-backs -- became a fielder's choice because Charlie Blackmon, the runner at first, misread the play, didn't run immediately, and was forced out at second.
"One of the hardest things to do when you're hitting the ball hard and not getting results is to not think you can change things," Morneau said. "If you're still hitting the ball hard, still feel you're having good at-bats, you stick with the plan. You can get yourself into more trouble once you start trying to change things. Obviously, it's frustrating, but you have to keep telling yourself that with good at-bats, good things are going to happen.
"The swing feels decent. I'm missing some pitches I feel I should be hitting, and the balls I am hitting hard seem like they're always going right at somebody."
Dodgers: Kershaw and Colorado's thin air
Clayton Kershaw starts for the Dodgers on Sunday, and he's 10-5 with a 3.60 ERA lifetime against Colorado, which includes a 5-3 record, but 5.24 ERA, at Coors Field. Kershaw has allowed 11 home runs at Coors Field. He hasn't allowed more than four home runs in any other road ballpark.
Rockies: Needing deeper starts
In 13 games going into Saturday afternoon, Rockies starters were 2-6 with a 6.10 ERA, and the Rockies were 2-11. Of course, that means the bullpen was 0-5, but manager Walt Weiss said the short, ineffective starts can lead to diminished bullpen effectiveness.
"The game tends to fall into place when you get a good start," Weiss said. "That's where it begins, with the starting pitching. It protects your bullpen and puts you in position to do some things offensively, because you're playing out in front. Ultimately, that's certainly one of the keys for success."
• Yasiel Puig and Dee Gordon both left Saturday's game with hip injuries and are considered day to day.
• Dodgers pitcher Chad Billingsley, recovering from 2013 Tommy John surgery, resumes his Minor League rehab assignment on Sunday for Class A Rancho Cucamonga.
• Right-handed pitcher Christian Bergman, a 24th-round Draft pick in 2010 who has developed into a front-line pitcher at Triple-A Colorado Springs, will be called upon to start for the Rockies in his Major League debut Monday night against the Braves at Coors Field.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.