Over the weekend, the Cincinnati Reds announced that they'd start a rookie pitcher on Monday against the Chicago Cubs instead of starting a rookie pitcher on Monday against the Chicago Cubs. Michael Lorenzen will return from the Lousiville Bats and take the mound against the upstart baby bears, and he'll do so fresh off a AAA stint that was about as dominant as you could hope for. His strikeouts were way down, but hopefully he learned enough from the Johnny Cueto School of Just Barely Hitting Bats To Induce Weak Contact for the Reds stellar defense to compensate for the non-K's. Fellow rookie David Holmberg was optioned back to Louisville to make way, though presumably he'll return tomorrow when rosters expand. Welcome back, Mike.
Speaking of expanded rosters, the Reds will have the opportunity to call-up any player on their 40-man roster to hang in the dugout, pinch-run, and watch Skip Schumaker start ahead of them for the final month of the season beginning on September 1st. However, there's just not a whole lot down on the farm that is itching for a shot in the big leagues. I'd wager that Brandon Finnegan will get a chance to start a game or two, since that's the big reason why he was a big chip in the trade of Cueto to the Kansas City Royals, and it's likely that both Carlos Contreras and Dylan Axelrod will get chairs in the bullpen as rah-rah mop-up guys. Tony Cingrani will probably be back, too, though it remains to be seen whether his balky shoulder will allow him to see any more action before the end of the season. As for the bat swingers, Kyle Waldrop's struggles shouldn't prevent him from being back with the team, I'd guess, though Yorman Rodriguez's calf issue will be an interesting case since he's not played in a AAA game since July 21st. New Red Adam Duvall will probably get a shot, as will 40-man amigos Kris Negron and Kyle Skipworth, who will provide funnies and rah-rah from the dugout bench.
The big questions will be whether top prospects Robert Stephenson and Jesse Winker get call-ups. I get the impression that Bob Steve will, though since he's not yet on the 40-man roster there will have to be a corresponding boot made to make him eligible. As for Winker, the Pensacola Blue Wahoos are currently sitting atop the second half standings in the AA Southern League, and there have been hints from the Cincinnati front office that they'd like to see Winker stick with the club in their playoff run. Since he, too, is not on the 40-man, all signs point to the top hitter in the system sticking in the minors for the remainder of 2015 to get some playoff experience, which probably isn't the worst thing ever. Joining those two on the "will they or won't they" portion of the roster are Juan Duran and Amir Garrett, both of whom are still young and unproven and likely won't get the call yet this year (despite, I believe, Duran being out of options after this season).
Turning our gaze from the future to the past, Monday marks former Reds great Frank Robinson's 80th birthday, and The Enquirer's Mike Dyer looked back to the time Frank enrolled in a few classes at Xavier University during his stint with the then-Redlegs. For salty-good measure, the Baltimore Orioles also tweeted out happy birthday greetings to Robinson. But hey, Milt Pappas' 93 ERA+ in his three years in Cincinnati weren't so bad, were they?
Joey Votto is real, and he's spectacular. He also delivered a pretty refreshing message to Reds fans after his clutch dinger in Milwaukee over the weekend. Right click, save. Reds.com's Mark Sheldon sure has noticed, too.
Finally, with just 33 games left in the 2015 season, the Reds currently sit 3 games back in the race for the 1st overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft (you'll have to scroll down a bit once you click on the link to find their record). Only the Colorado Rockies, Philadelphia Phillies, and Miami Marlins hold worse records, though both NL East teams have played more games so far this season, which means the Reds have a few games in-hand on their quest to catch them. These are dark times.