Reyes' main focus will be fastball command in second start
CINCINNATI -- With Mike Leake on the disabled list with shingles, rookie right-hander Alex Reyes is getting an opportunity to start for the St. Louis Cardinals, who are chasing a National League wild-card spot.
Reyes will make his second career start Friday night in the opener of a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park.
Rated by Baseball America as the No. 1 prospect in the Cardinals organization, Reyes has shown good stuff, but command has been lacking at times.
In 14 career innings, Reyes has allowed just one run while striking out 17. He has also walked eight, including four in his last outing.
"There's a lot of room to grow," said manager Mike Matheny of Reyes. "Most of it is going to be with fastball command, and fastball movement. Comes through struggles, trying to overthrow. He'll progress."
Reyes faced the Reds once so far: a scoreless inning in relief on August 9.
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St. Louis enters this series having set a new franchise record with homers in 20 straight games. The Cardinals might add more offensive firepower on Friday when first baseman Matt Adams is expected to return. Adams, who owns a 1.016 OPS against the Reds and has homered seven times at Great American Ball Park, missed the past 19 games with shoulder inflammation.
Right-hander Anthony DeSclafani will make his 16th start of the season for the Reds on Friday. This will be DeSclafani's sixth career appearance and fifth start against the Cardinals, and second start of the season.
DeSclafani is coming off his finest outing of the season on Saturday, when he tossed a complete game, giving up only four hits with nine strikeouts in a 13-0 win at Arizona.
It was his 11th quality start in 15 outings since coming off the disabled list June 10.
DeSclafani was the first Reds pitcher to produce at least six wins without a loss over his first nine starts to begin a season since Paul Wilson went 6-0 in his first nine starts in 2004.
Cincinnati scored only four runs total while being swept in a three-game series at Anaheim, after averaging 5.7 runs per game in August going into the series.
"It's certainly a step back from where we've been, but it's the ebb and flow of the season," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "We had a few tough starts, short starts, had to go to the bullpen early and weren't able to get back into those games. That hadn't been the recipe to our success in July and the better part of August."
Despite being swept, Cincinnati has played better since the All-Star break. A big reason is the hot bat of first baseman Joey Votto, who batted .394 in August after a .419 clip in July. He just missed becoming the first major league player since Josh Hamilton in 2010 to bat .400 or better in consecutive months.
Also hot for Cincinnati since being recalled from Triple A is Jose Peraza, who's been getting regular time at shortstop with Zack Cozart out recently with an injury. Peraza is batting .463 since coming back.
The normally vacant lockers in both clubhouses at Great American Ball Park likely will be occupied beginning Friday after the rosters expanded to 40 players on Thursday.
St. Louis has won seven of 12 meetings against the Reds this season. The teams have split six games at Great American Ball Park.