|Peralta, D-backs take on Reds|
The Arizona Diamondbacks don't lack for recognizable names. First baseman Paul Goldschmidt is the longstanding face of the franchise, and right-hander Zack Greinke is one of the majors' highest-paid players at $31 million per season.
No wonder outfielder David Peralta sometimes gets overlooked -- which is the mistake the Cincinnati Reds shouldn't make against him during their three-game series against Arizona that starts Friday night at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.
The Diamondbacks are competing with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the National League West title, and Peralta's ascent into the upper echelon of major league hitters is one of the reasons why.
Peralta went 10-for-16 (.625) as the Diamondbacks took two of three from the Philadelphia Phillies this week at Chase Field, raising his average to .306. Since Aug. 2, he is 18-for-37 (.486).
"I think the league needs to take notice of the success that he's having," Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said after Peralta went 4-for-5 with two RBIs during a 6-0 victory over the Phillies on Wednesday. "He's in the middle of a lot of things that are happening here, and he definitely deserves the credit. He wants to be in the middle of all the traffic."
Peralta has jumped his batting average by 21 points in a span of only seven games. The Diamondbacks were 4-3 in those games, but have won four of six and eight of 12 as they fight it out with the Dodgers for the division lead.
Peralta is a combined 4-for-13 (.308) against the Reds' scheduled starting pitchers in this series, right-hander Anthony DeSclafani (3-for-6) on Friday, right-hander Matt Harvey (1-for-5) on Saturday and right-hander Luis Castillo (0-for-2) on Sunday.
"He's been huge all season, but he's probably the hottest hitter in baseball right now," Diamondbacks left-hander Patrick Corbin told reporters following the Phillies game.
He is exactly the kind of hitter the Reds don't need to be facing right now. They had begun playing very steadily following their dreadful 8-27 start, but they have slipped back to 50-65 by dropping four of five and seven of nine on their just-concluded road trip to Detroit, Washington and New York. During that trip, their starting pitchers' ERA was nearly 6.00.
For one of the few times under interim manager Jim Riggleman, the Reds looked lethargic during an 8-0 loss to the New York Mets on Wednesday at Citi Field.
"I love being at home, that's for sure," Riggleman said. "(But) you've got to win ballgames on the road and we did not have a good road trip. Going home doesn't solve your problems. You've got to play well when you get home."
They could use a lift Friday from DeSclafani (5-3, 4.98 ERA), who limited the Washington Nationals to one run and six hits over seven innings during a 7-1 Reds victory on Saturday. He had failed to last five innings in his previous three starts.
"I'll definitely take going seven innings for the club," DeSclafani said. "This start was just filling it up like I always do ... I've had success, but maybe the ball hasn't been rolling my way a little bit."
The Reds, who dropped two of three to Arizona at Chase Field from May 28-30, hope to get back first baseman Joey Votto, who sat out the final two games of the Mets series with a bruised knee.
DeSclafani will oppose right-hander Clay Buchholz, a former Red Sox starter who has been a pleasant surprise to the Diamondbacks by going 5-1 with a 2.68 ERA. He also won Saturday, beating the San Francisco Giants 9-3 while giving up two runs, striking out eight and walking two over six innings -- his fifth win in a row.
He has faced the Reds only once, a 7-4 Cincinnati win over the Philadelphia Phillies on April 6, 2017, in which he gave up four runs and eight hits in five innings.
Goldschmidt is 6-for-8 with two doubles, a home run and three RBIs against DeSclafani, who is 1-1 with a 4.05 ERA in three career starts against the Diamondbacks but hasn't faced them since 2016. He beat them 13-0 on Aug. 27, 2016, pitching a complete-game four-hitter.