In 2017 the Cincinnati Reds found out that Luis Castillo is their best starting pitcher.
The Cincinnati Reds are recovering from two of the worst starting pitching seasons in franchise history. 2016 was one of the worst pitching seasons by any franchise. 2017 was only better because of an improved bullpen and a discovery.
The Reds discovered that one of pitchers they got back in exchange for Dan Straily was better than Straily himself. Luis Castillo wasn’t due to reach the majors until 2019. Instead, he is in the running for the Opening Day start in 2018.
The Opening Day start usually goes to the ace of the team. That is Castillo. He struck out 98 batters in 89 1/3 innings.
The other major consideration is who had the best season the previous year. That honor also belongs to Castillo. Despite only starting fifteen games, Castillo led the team in strikeouts.
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The only starter with a lower ERA was fellow prospect Tyler Mahle. Mahle, though, is likely to start the season in Triple-A. He needs to work on pitching later into games.
Castillo doesn’t need to work on that. He averaged nearly six innings per start, leading the team. Castillo also led all starters in WHIP, showing that he is best without a shadow of a doubt.
The Cincinnati Reds are in this position because their veteran starters are not reliable.
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The Reds have three veteran starters in their projected rotation. Homer Bailey, Anthony DeSclafani, and Brandon Finnegan have yet to be in the rotation together. This is because they are unreliable.
Finnegan wasn’t a Red the last time that DeSclafani and Bailey were both healthy at the same time. This excludes the end of 2016 when Bailey made six starts. He clearly wasn’t ready to be out there.
Castillo, though, came up when the Reds needed a starter in the middle of last season. He made fifteen starts, including eight quality starts.
He also was first among all starters in strikeouts per inning for starters with at least ten starts.
Castillo was also the only starting pitcher with a WHIP below 1.25. Only Finnegan had a lower batting average against, but he only made four starts. Castillo’s numbers were strong and long.
The Reds need to do something to turn this staff around. Castillo showed last season that he pitch at the big league level. Now the Reds need to show faith in their ace of the future by letting him start Opening Day.