Peralta proving to be key cog in bullpen

Peralta proving to be key cog in bullpen

Left-hander Wandy Peralta is a rookie and was one of the last relievers to earn a spot in the Reds' bullpen out Spring Training. But he's quickly been given increased trust by manager Bryan Price, especially since fellow lefty Tony Cingrani went on the disabled list on April 21.

That confidence remained obvious Thursday as Price counted on Peralta to pitch 1 1/3 scoreless innings to setup Raisel Iglesias in the Reds' tight 3-2 win over the Giants. Peralta has a 1.20 ERA in 15 appearances.

"He's handling competing extremely well in these higher leverage situations for a young lefty just kind of getting his feet wet in the big leagues," Price told reporters. "It's been extremely impressive."

After righty Drew Storen gave up a pair of two-out singles in the seventh inning to put runners on first and second base, Price summoned Peralta to take on the left-handed-hitting Brandon Belt. Peralta got a flyout to left field to close down the rally.

In the eighth, Peralta showed how tough he is for hitters. First, Hunter Pence swung through a 97-mph fastball for a 1-2 count. Peralta returned with an 84-mph changeup and got a swinging strike three.

Brandon Crawford was next with a double, the first hit Peralta has allowed in his last four appearances. Crawford would be stranded, as Peralta changed speeds again with Christian Arroyo. First, Arroyo took on an 0-2 pitch -- a 96-mph fastball. But he could not resist the 84-mph changeup that followed and swung at strike three. Joe Panik grounded to the right side and Peralta covered first base to escape the frame.

Of Peralta's 20 pitches, he threw 14 strikes. He has retired 45 of the 54 batters he's faced this season, with five hits, four walks and 21 strikeouts over his 15 innings in 15 appearances.

"I believe in myself. I believe in my pitches," Peralta told reporters via translator Julio Morillo. "I believe in what I'm capable of and it feels really good right now."

Last season as a September callup, Peralta struggled in his 10 appearances with an 8.59 ERA and seven walks in 7 1/3 innings.

"I wondered coming into the year, he was, based on last year, he was kind of wild and somewhat erratic. And this year, he's been lights out," Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco said.

In the early days of camp, Price was quick to voice that he was impressed by the 25-year-old. Besides a sharper fastball, Peralta had developed his slider and changeup.

"He's looked very comfortable from Day 1. Once you get that confidence that he got over his first few outings, it's going to be hard to knock him from that pedestal the rest of the season," Reds starter Bronson Arroyo told reporters.

Not only does Price trust Peralta, but so does his teammates.

"He's throwing the ball as good as anybody I've ever played with out of the bullpen," Arroyo added. "I'll take him in any matchup, not even just lefty-lefty, but just out there in the heat of the battle. With nobody on base, I'll take him against the best of the league and we can take our chances with him."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.