It was surprising when Kyle Freeland was named the Colorado Rockies’ Opening Day starter.

He had struggled for a few seasons and didn’t look like an ace of the staff, especially with 2021 All-Star German Marquez in the rotation.

On Monday, Freeland showed that ace stuff when he pitched seven shutout innings in Milwaukee to stop a three-game Colorado skid. On Saturday night, he will be asked to stop another downslide, this time against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Denver.

The Rockies have dropped the first two games of the four-game series and have lost six straight overall to the Dodgers.

Los Angeles, behind seven strong innings from Julio Urias, won Friday night’s game 5-4.

“To win a couple games” at the outset of an eight-game trip “couldn’t start off any better,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.

The Rockies have lost six of their first eight games out of the All-Star break.

Freeland (5-7, 4.64 ERA) will go against the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw (7-2, 2.49) in a battle of lefties on Saturday.

To get a much-needed win for his team, Freeland will have to pitch better than he has against Los Angeles this season. He is 1-2 with a 7.04 ERA against the NL West leaders and has allowed 12 earned runs in 15 1/3 innings.

He is 4-9 with a 4.53 ERA in 19 starts in his career against the Dodgers.

Freeland’s performance Monday came on the heels of a bad outing at home against the San Diego Padres on July 14. In that game, Freeland gave up five runs over four innings and was so frustrated by his start that he broke a light in the dugout.

He channeled that over the break to tinker with his mechanics in the 10 days between starts.

“I made some adjustments in my last bullpen after my last start, threw another one right after the (All-Star) break as well, and continued to make those adjustments,” Freeland said. “Those adjustments paid off.”

Trying to end a losing streak against Kershaw looks tough, but despite going 24-10 with a 3.47 ERA in 45 career starts against Colorado, he has been somewhat mortal in Denver.

In his 25 starts at Coors Field, he is 11-7 with a 4.81 ERA and has given up 21 home runs.

Kershaw, at age 34, is no longer the workhorse for Los Angeles, and he has battled injuries. He missed four weeks earlier this year with inflammation in his SI joint. That hasn’t dampened the Rockies’ view of him.

“I’ve watched him just abuse hitters — hitters that have been around for 10 or 15 years,” Rockies reliever Lucas Gilbreath said. “It’s just incredible.”

–Field Level Media