Having been saddled with their first 90-loss season in 11 years, the Milwaukee Brewers are making the most of a chance to see what they have in the minor leagues.
At the same time, their hobbling slugger is taking this opportunity to prepare for back surgery.
After shutting down Ryan Braun, the Brewers will give the ball to highly touted prospect Jorge Lopez in the opener of a three-game road series against the San Diego Padres on Tuesday night.
Milwaukee (66-90) is going for its first back-to-back wins since Sept. 5 after earning a four-game split at St. Louis with an 8-4 victory Sunday, as Jason Rogers delivered a pinch-hit grand slam in the ninth inning.
That came a day after the club reached 90 losses for the first time since going 67-94 in 2004. With the focus on next season, Braun has decided not to risk further damaging a herniated disc that's he expected to have repaired next month. He had played in four of the past 11 games, going 0 for 11.
"Taking everything into consideration - where we're at in the season, how many games we have left - we felt it was the right choice," the six-time All-Star told MLB's official website.
The Brewers have also gone to an all-rookie rotation as they try to figure out who might stick in 2016.
Lopez, ranked the team's eighth-best prospect by MLB's official website, has earned an opportunity after being named Milwaukee's minor league pitcher of the year. He went 12-5 with a 2.26 ERA at Double-A Biloxi, finishing second to teammate Tyler Wagner in the Southern League ERA race.
The right-hander will face a San Diego team that totaled eight runs in dropping two of three to visiting Arizona over the weekend.
The Padres (73-83), who are 3-3 on their nine-game homestand, send Tyson Ross (10-11, 3.17 ERA) to the mound. The right-hander has allowed three or fewer earned runs in 29 of his 32 starts but hasn't won in his last four despite a 2.52 ERA, as he's received seven runs of support.
Ross has posted a 1.97 ERA over his last five outings and recorded 20 strikeouts in his past two. The 2014 All-Star is 5 2-3 innings away from matching his career high of 195 2-3, set last season.
"I had to reinvent myself a little this year and add a new pitch with the cutter," he said. "As the league adjusts to you, you need to adjust back to it. I'm happy now with my innings."
Ross, 3-1 with a 3.33 ERA in four starts against the Brewers, picked up the only victory when San Diego (73-83) lost three of four at Miller Park from Aug. 3-6. He gave up two earned runs over six innings of a 13-5 win to open the series.
Adam Lind has gone 5 for 6 with a home run against Ross and is 15 for 32 in his last seven games against the Padres. Khris Davis, who homered twice Sunday, is 3 for 6 with a homer off Ross.
San Diego's Wil Myers is expected to return after sitting Sunday due to a sore left wrist, while Yangervis Solarte's status is less certain because of a strained right hamstring.