CINCINNATI -- Typically, a late-June series between two last-place clubs would not draw much interest. But, large crowds are expected at Great American Ball Park for this weekend's four-game set between the Cincinnati Reds and San Diego Padres.
Pete Rose, baseball's all-time hits leader, will be inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame on Saturday as part of weekend-long festivities honoring Rose with 20 members of the Big Red Machine clubs of the 1970s present.
Rose who compiled a record 4,256 hits during his 24-year career, is ineligible for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame due to his banishment from the game for betting on baseball. Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred recently refused to lift Rose's ban, but he did open the door for the Reds to enshrine him in the franchise's Hall of Fame. Additionally, Rose's No. 14 uniform number will be retired by the club on Sunday.
But, before the pageantry gets underway, Thursday's series opener begins with a matchup of left-handers in the Padres' Christian Friedrich and the Reds' John Lamb who've both struggled at times this season.
Friedrich allowed a season-high six runs and nine hits in his last outing, a 7-5 loss to the Washington Nationals.
Lamb has lowered his earned run average from a season-high 6.85 on May 27 to 4.75. In fact, his ERA in June was 2.66 including two straight seven-plus inning efforts.
Lamb will be facing the Padres for the first time. Friedrich, a native of nearby Richmond, Ky., has faced Cincinnati five times including two starts, going 1-1 with a 7.50 ERA with 10 earned runs allowed and three home runs in 12 innings.
Despite going 0-for-4 on Wednesday night, first baseman Wil Myers is pacing the Padres' offense with 16 homers and 45 RBIs. For the Reds, it's been corner outfielders Jay Bruce and Adam Duvall who are among just four sets of teammates in the major leagues with at least 48 RBIs each.
The Reds' rebuilding efforts have gotten a boost of late with the return of promising young right-handers Michael Lorenzen and Raisel Iglesias, who are expected to bolster a bullpen that struggled for much of the season.
Cincinnati's heralded corps of young starters will be on display in this weekend's series with Lamb, Cody Reed and Brandon Finnegan, all left-handers acquired last July in the deal that sent Johnny Cueto to the Kansas City Royals, each getting starts against the Padres. Right-hander Anthony DeSclafani, among several starters to begin the season on the disabled list, will make his fourth start since being reinstated. He's 1-0 with a fine 2.30 ERA since coming off the DL.
The Padres (30-43) have struggled on the road, going 12-21 including a split in the two-game series in Baltimore which concluded Wednesday night with a 6-2 loss.
Cincinnati (28-44) has gone 13-11 since snapping an 11-game losing streak on May 28. The Reds haven't fared well in recent years against San Diego, going 6-12 without a season series win since 2012. The Padres won both series last season taking two of three at both Petco Park and Great American.