The Reds begin a tough, ten-game home stand – Kansas City (2), Arizona (4), Detroit (1), LA Dodgers (3) – tonight facing the Kansas City Royals and former Reds starter Edinson Volquez. The Royals have the second-best record in baseball and best in the American League. Raisel Iglesias starts tonight for the home team.

It tells you all you need to know about the Reds season when three of the five items in today’s news concern pitchers at Louisville:

• Tony Cingrani will start for the Louisville Bats tonight. It’s his first appearance since hitting the disabled list with a combination of shoulder and back problems. In June, Grank Freking analyzed the good and bad of Cingrani’s time with the Reds. Bats’ manager Delino DeShields says the goal for Cingrani is to get him ready to start a few games for the Reds in September. (Jonathan Lintner)

This time around, Cingrani will “be on a short rope,” said Bats manager Delino DeShields. Pitching coach Ted Power will decide when he has seen enough in the first start back.

“It’s mostly about how he looks and how the ball’s coming out of his hand,” DeShields said. “We’ll be slow with it the first few times coming out. He’s not going to go five innings.”

After dealing starting pitchers Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake before the trade deadline, the Reds have overhauled their rotation. Younger pitchers may hit inning limits, opening up chances for Cingrani in the majors.

“Hopefully,” DeShields added, “we can build him up to where by the end of the season he can start a few games in Cincinnati.”

• In huge news for Reds fans in the Fox Sports Ohio footprint, Major League Baseball and Fox Sports reached an agreement to permit in-market streaming of MLB games for Fox affiliates. This affects 15 major league teams, including the Reds. Viewers will access the streaming broadcast through Fox sites, not, a concession by MLB. That issue had been a sticking point in the negotiations thus far. Fox regional sports networks like FSO will use MLB Advanced Media (BAM) to manage the streams. Viewers will have to be subscribers to a television content carrier (cable or satellite) that carries the Fox affiliate. (Sports Business Daily)

There is no specific timetable for a potential announcement of a deal between Fox and MLB. The two sides hope to complete the agreement around the end of this season, which would give the league and RSNs a full offseason to market the availability of the new local streams before Opening Day 2016. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, working with the league’s president of business and media, Bob Bowman, has made in-market baseball streaming a key league priority, including personally participating in several negotiating sessions.

• Michael Lorenzen’s first start at Louisville AAA went well. He threw a complete-game shutout, giving up four hits and one walk. Lorenzen needed just 93 pitches. He only struck out one batter, which may indicate he was going for weak swings rather than swing-and-miss. No word yet on his fastball velocity, which had been a concern in recent starts for the Reds. Click on the image below to watch Lorenzen’s post-game comments.


• In yet more pitching news out of Louisville, Reds top prospect Robert Stephenson will miss one, but only one, start due to the wrist discomfort he felt in his previous outing. Stephenson left in the third inning of his start on Wednesday. (Jonathan Lintner) Earlier this month, minor league managers had named Stephenson the top pitching prospect in the International League.

Stephenson went to Cincinnati on Monday for a look by the Reds’ Dr. Timothy Kremchek.

“I think everything checked out OK,” DeShields said. “He’ll be back in the rotation next time around.”

Since an early July promotion to Louisville, Stephenson is 4-2 with a 3.43 ERA. He has struck out 42 batters, twice as many as walked, and was viewed as a potential option to move to the majors last month when the Reds dealt pitchers Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake before the trade deadline.

• Redleg Nation founder Chad Dotson wrote an article for Cincinnati Magazine taking a fond look back at the past five Reds seasons. (Chad Dotson)

Count me among the fans who were okay with Jocketty’s plan for 2015, which basically came down to this: Let’s hope everyone can stay healthy. No, that’s not really a plan, and it backfired horribly when Homer Bailey and Devin Mesoraco sustained season-ending injuries almost immediately. But I’m a fan, and I want to hope for the best, so I was willing to squint and try to see a playoff team from this club’s Opening Day roster.

We can’t fool ourselves any longer. The window closed at the end of 2014, and I’m sure we’ll have plenty of conversations in the coming months about how the Reds are choosing to rebuild—ummm, excuse me: reboot—the franchise. That conversation can wait. I want to reminisce for a moment about the fun we’ve had over the last few years.