Rockies-Padres preview

SAN DIEGO — The Colorado Rockies and San Diego Padres meet in a four-game series at Petco Park this weekend, and the Thursday night opener features two pitchers at the opposite ends of their career.

Veteran Clayton Richard, who turns 33 next Monday, will be making his sixth start in his second tour with the Padres. It will be the 202nd appearance of his major league career.

Rockies rookie Jeff Hoffman, 23, will be making his fourth-ever major league start.

The pitchers have one thing in common other than their identical

6-foot-5 heights.

Both are pitching with an eye for a job in 2017.

The Padres and the Rockies are looking to the future, using the final month of the season as an audition.

The San Diego rotation needs a major overhaul going into the 2017 season. Right now, only right-hander Luis Perdomo seems to have a lock on a starting spot going into spring training. Right-hander Tyson Ross would have a spot locked … if his most recent appearance weren't the season opener.

“We're looking at everyone on this roster with an eye on 2017,” said manager Andy Green, who committed the Padres to a six-man rotation for the final month of the season until right-hander Jarred Cosart sustained both a right groin strain and a right hamstring strain on the same play while covering first base Wednesday night.

Will San Diego stick with a six-man rotation? Not if Cosart is out.

“To have a six-man rotation, you need six starting pitchers,” Green said Wednesday night while saying the severity of Cosart's injury won't be known until later in the week. Hint: Cosart will miss at least one start.

Which could be good news for Richard, who is the Padres' hottest starter at the moment. Since signing with San Diego on Aug. 1 as a free agent, Richard is 1-2 with a 1.48 ERA in six appearances (four starts). Adding in 25 relief outings for the Chicago Cubs earlier this year, he is 1-3 with a 3.29 ERA overall.

Over his past three starts, Richard has allowed one earned run on 19 hits and five walks with 12 strikeouts in 18 innings. That is a 0.50 ERA.

“I'm really happy to be back in San Diego,” Richard said. “I'd love to stay and help their vision for the future.”

Actually, Richard might be perfect for the role. Green has said that part of his development plan for the young Padres is to have a select corps of veterans to provide guidance. A former University of Michigan quarterback who was with the Padres from 2009 to 2013, Richard is seen as a strong leader.

“It's been great having him around,” said Christian Friedrich, another left-handed member of the current San Diego rotation.

As for Hoffman, he is 0-2 with a 6.60 ERA in his first three starts for the Rockies. Thursday night could be different, though. The Padres will be the first major league team that Hoffman faces that is not in first place.

“He's faced a tough schedule while getting his feet on the ground,”

Rockies manager Walt Weiss said of Hoffman.

Before being promoted to the Rockies, Hoffman was 6-9 with a 4.02 ERA in 22 starts for Triple-A Albuquerque. Hoffman, who is two years removed from Tommy John surgery, was ranked among the top 50 prospects in the minor leagues this season.

The right-hander was part of the package the Rockies received last year in the trade that sent reliever LaTroy Hawkins and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Padres are 7-5 against the Rockies thus far this season with a

4-2 edge at Petco Park.