Losers of 14 of their first 17 games this month and coming off a 2-8 road trip, the Brewers aren't exactly receiving the best welcome home gift Monday.
Already struggling to stay out of the loss column, the Brewers will have to deal with National League ERA leader Clayton Kershaw on Monday when the club returns to Miller Park for a three-game set with the Dodgers.
"Look at everybody we face," said Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun, who will also have to go against Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu in the series. "There's better starting pitcher now than there's every been across the league, for me, in my seven years. Every night, you know you're pretty much getting somebody who's a quality starter."
If there is a silver lining to Milwaukee's recent rough stretch, it is that the club has been through it before. Last season, the Brewers also began the year 17-25 before finishing 83-79.
"It definitely gives us some hope," Braun said. "This isn't the way we would prefer to start. Certainly, we would like to get off to a good start, but having been through it before the last couple of years, we've gotten off to bad starts and we've finished really strong. You don't want to dig yourself too deep of a hole, especially because the division is better than ever, it's stronger than ever, and there's more teams that are good. If you dig yourself too deep of a hole, it's going to be very difficult to get out of."
Countering the Dodgers' ace on Monday will be the Brewers' No. 1 guy in Yovani Gallardo. Like his team, Gallardo has struggled so far this month, allowing a combined nine runs over 16 innings of work. His last time out against the Pirates, the right-hander took a hard-luck loss surrendering only two runs on three hits in six frames.
As for Kershaw, the southpaw has been nothing short of dominant in May, giving up just two runs over 22 2/3 innings. Kershaw came within one out of recording a complete game shutout in his last start, against the Nationals last Tuesday.
The Dodgers come into Milwaukee after being swept by the Braves in Atlanta over the weekend.
"Wins are big right now. It's not coming easy, no secret about that," Kershaw said.
Dodgers: Ellis activated, Federowicz optioned
The Dodgers activated second baseman Mark Ellis off the disabled list Sunday and optioned catcher Tim Federowicz to Triple-A Albuquerque.
Ellis returned quicker than expected from a right quad strained on April 26. He was cleared to return after a seven-inning rehab appearance Saturday night with Double-A Chattanooga.
Ellis was immediately put in the starting lineup for Sunday's finale against the Braves, hitting second and playing second base. He went 0-for-4 on the day with a strikeout.
"I'm done rehabbing," Ellis said upon his return to the Dodgers' clubhouse. "I was fine at the plate [Saturday]."
Brewers: Gonzalez not faring well vs. lefties
With Tom Gorzelanny and Chris Narveson on the disabled list, the Brewers' only active left-handed pitcher is Michael Gonzalez, who has struggled to retire lefties this season. Gonzalez was called upon Saturday to face lefty-swinging Cardinals center fielder Jon Jay and surrendered a tying single.
Including that hit, left-handers are 10-for-32 against Gonzalez this season with two doubles and two walks.
"I think his stuff is fine," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "He doesn't throw 95 [mph] like he used to, and that's an adjustment he has to make."
• The Dodgers took two of three against the Brewers in Los Angeles earlier this season.
• The Brewers are 0-17 in 2013 when scoring three runs or fewer.
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.