With the Reds and D-backs separated by four games in the National League Wild-Card hunt, the next four days will go a long way in determining if the playoff picture in the Senior Circuit will include a sixth team heading into the final month of the season.
When Cincinnati and Arizona open up a crucial four-game set at Great American Ballpark beginning Monday, the Reds will be looking to extend their lead for the second Wild Card spot and push toward the top of the NL Central, while the D-backs, who sit 7 1/2 games behind the surging Dodgers in the NL West, will try to put pressure on the trio of NL Central teams that currently hold three playoff spots.
Earlier this year, the D-backs took two of three from the Reds at Chase Field.
Hoping to get the series started with a win for the Reds will be Bronson Arroyo. The 36-year-old is coming off a brilliant performance in his last start vs. the Cubs, tossing seven shutout innings, striking out seven and allowing just two hits on Wednesday. He retired the first nine Cubs and faced the minimum number of hitters over his first six innings.
"It's unbelievable the way he pitches," Reds third baseman Todd Frazier said. "I can't understand how he does it. Everybody is off-balance. I know I'm going to get ground balls, so I'm ready all the time, and he's still striking guys out. It's pretty cool to watch and see a guy like that just work his craft. It's genius, basically, what he does."
Opposing Arroyo for the D-backs will be Randall Delgado, who hasn't lost since July 8, despite posting a 5.50 ERA and serving up five home runs through three starts in August. The right-hander pitched well his last time out, though, limiting the Orioles to three runs on five hits over seven innings on Tuesday.
Reds: Hanigan moving past wrist injury
Ryan Hanigan started behind the plate on Sunday for the fourth time since coming off the disabled list on Aug. 9 after spraining his left wrist. He went 2-for-5 and drove in three runs in the Reds' 9-1 victory over the Brewers.
Hanigan, who missed a month on the disabled list, said his wrist still bothers him while he's hitting, though.
"It's getting there," Hanigan said. "It only affects me offensively. It's still a little bit sore, but it's manageable right now. I've got the strength back, but it's not too bad."
Reds manager Dusty Baker said he'll rely on both Hanigan and Devin Mesoraco behind the plate moving forward.
"We need both of them," Baker said. "Mes has been calling a great, better game and throwing better, hitting better. And Hanie's starting to swing it now that his hand's better. He looks better."
D-backs: King of the Hill
The D-backs have relied heavily on National League MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt this season, but through half of August, Aaron Hill has stepped up to help carry the load.
Hill is riding an 11-game hitting streak and owns 10 multihit games in August. He went 4-for-7 on Sunday, raising his average to .317. The second baseman missed two months earlier this year with a broken hand.
• The D-backs are 13-5 in extra-inning games this season. They won 4-2 in 16 innings in Pittsburgh on Sunday.
• Reds reliever J.J. Hoover has not allowed a run in 25 1/3 innings.
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.