Cincinnati Reds' Billy Hamilton, left, calls for time after hitting a leadoff double off Milwaukee Brewers' Jimmy Nelson.
CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Reds shuffled their starting rotation coming out of the All-Star break in an effort to limit innings for left-hander Brandon Finnegan. So right-hander Anthony DeSclafani will kick off the second half of the season when he faces right-hander Matt Garza and the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday at Great American Ball Park.
Left-hander John Lamb will start Saturday and right-hander Dan Straily on Sunday followed by Finnegan.
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"The heaviest workload has certainly been on the shoulders of Finnegan," Reds manager Bryan Price told The Cincinnati Enquirer. "We’re just being cognizant of workload. Straily is the most experienced pitcher coming in. DeSclafani and Lamb being affected by injury has decreased their probable workload for the season."
Tweaking the rotation might be among the most insignificant change that Price will have to make during July.
The rebuilding is expected to continue for Cincinnati (32-57), which lost seven of 10 heading into the break. With the trade deadline approaching, the Reds are among the clubs expected to sell off to contenders looking to fill needs for the stretch run. Left fielder Jay Bruce, shortstop Zack Cozart and second baseman Brandon Phillips are among the players who could be coveted.
Some good news for Cincinnati is that right-hander Homer Bailey is on track to return at some point this month. Bailey hasn’t pitched since April 2015 before undergoing Tommy John surgery. He made three rehab starts for Triple-A Louisville without issue and could make at least two more before being activated.
Price’s future as manager also will be a talking point in the second half and his status could be dependent on the club getting off to a good start beginning with this weekend’s three-game series against Milwaukee.
The Brewers are 4-3 against the Reds this season, including 2-2 at Great American Ball Park. The teams will play 12 more times this season.
Milwaukee (38-49) made a roster move on Thursday, recalling right-handed reliever Corey Knebel from Triple-A Colorado Springs. He fills the spot vacated by right-hander Michael Blazek, who was optioned Sunday.
Walks have been an issue for Garza, who had several rough outings before the All-Star break. He has walked eight in the past 16 innings and gave up seven runs in 4 1/3 innings in his last start at Washington.
The Brewers must make another roster move on Saturday because, as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, right-hander Zach Davies is expected to start in Cincinnati.
Milwaukee, which resides in fourth place in the National League Central, seven games ahead of the last-place Reds, also expects to be active at the trade deadline.
First-year general manager David Stearns could make a statement at the deadline with catcher Jonathan Lucroy being among the bait. First things first, both the Reds and Brewers badly need a positive performance in the second half of the season beginning Friday night.
"I think every July there is a lot of speculation, and that will continue to be the case until we get back to being consistently competitive," Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun told MLB.com. "There’s always more speculation than there ever … most teams are either looking to acquire guys or to trade off some asset. There’s action one way or the other."