An off-day in the middle of the dog days of a lost summer is always a good time for some reflection, and damnit that's exactly what I fell into yesterday while watching the San Francisco Giants take on the St. Louis Cardinals in a game that actually meant something. It's weird how both recent and far-removed the successes of the 2010, 2012, and 2013 Cincinnati Reds seem, really. The magnificent stretch the Reds pulled out of their hats when Joey Votto first got hurt in 2012 is as etched and fresh in my memory as any baseball I've watched, yet it also feels like a fortnight of fortnights since the Reds have played anything close to a meaningful series on the field. Friend of the blog Chad Dotson is on that same page, and he detailed just how much he's going to miss the recent run of success for Cincinnati Magazine, which is certainly worth the read.
As Dotson noted, part of what prompted that bit of nostalgia was the recent trades of the last vestiges of what had been the most dominant starting rotation in the last handful of decades of club history. The McPaper's Bob Nightengale has an interesting nugget about one of those deals, as buried in his article about the Toronto Blue Jays is his assertion that the Jays had a deal in place to acquire Mike Leake before finding out David Price was actually available. There's no way Leake would've brought back Daniel Norris - the centerpiece of the Price deal - but it's certainly a fun brain-bender to try to figure out what was nearly a big piece of the Reds' farm system. Leake, of course, ended up on heading to the Giants in exchange for Keury Mella and Adam Duvall.
Speaking of Leake, the durable starter who never had a DL stint while with the Reds quickly tweaked a hammy and landed there after just a pair of starts with the Giants, and he was originally scheduled to come off the DL Tuesday to make a start against those Cardinals. According to CSNBayArea.com's Alex Pavlovic, that's unfortunately not going to happen just yet. That's a bummer, especially since Leake's trying to put the best possible stretch-run together as he barrels towards free agency for the first time. Since he was traded, he can't get extended a Qualifying Offer by San Francisco, though, so he'll be much more attractive on the open market since there's no way for him to have a draft pick penalty attached to him. Get well soon, Mike.
Regarding the current iteration of the Reds, there's a pair of newsworthy storylines about young pitchers trying to fill the shoes of both Leake and Johnny Cueto. As Jonathan Lintner discussed in The Enquirer, Tony Cingrani will be back on the mound for the Louisville Bats on Tuesday, and he'll once again be trying to rekindle success as a starting pitcher. For as much as Tony has struggled over the last two years to have any sort of command and effectiveness while starting games, it wasn't too long ago that he was leading the entire NL in K/9 for pitchers that threw over 100 innings (2013) or posting a career minors ERA that begins with 1.
Cingrani will be effectively taking the rotation spot of top prospect Robert Stephenson, who will miss just one start after a wrist cramp caused an early exit (and big time scare) last Wednesday. As Lintner reported, Bats manager Delino DeShields expects Stephenson to miss just the single start and take the ball as planned when his spot in the rotation rolls back around this weekend. Good, good, good.
Finally, the Reds will get back to baseball Tuesday evening, and they'll do so against the Kansas City
Cuetos Royals Volquezs, as their 2008 ace will be on the hill against them. Raisel Iglesias will be on the bump for Cincinnati, and we'll all hope he can channel everything he learned from Cueto in just about a year's time to keep the AL's best out of the win column. Wait...draft position...lost season...win...let's just hope Raisel pitches really well. Here's MLB.com's preview.