Cincinnati Reds: Luis Castillo gives hope for starting rotation

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 23: Luis Castillo #58 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches in the second inning against the St. Louis Cardinals during a game at Great American Ball Park on July 23, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 23: Luis Castillo #58 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches in the second inning against the St. Louis Cardinals during a game at Great American Ball Park on July 23, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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The Cincinnati Reds overcame a great outing by the St. Louis Cardinals last night. Lost in the late-inning heroics was Luis Castillo’s performance on the mound.

The Cincinnati Reds overcame a historic outing from Cardinals’ pitcher Daniel Poncedeleon to win in dramatic, walk-off fashion on Monday night. Dilson Herrera will get the glory, Poncedeleon will get the adulation, Jared Hughes will get the win, and Bud Norris will get the criticism. Lost in the shuffle, however, will be Luis Castillo, who should get the praise in the Reds’ 2-1 win over St. Louis.

The Reds’ starting rotation has been atrocious since their return from the All-Star break. Tyler Mahle was rocked in his outing last Friday, Anthony DeSclafani was not much better, and Matt Harvey had his worst performance as a Red this past weekend.

The Reds’ starters in the series against the Pittsburgh Pirates allowed 17 runs on 22 hits, including 8 home runs. Given those statistics, it was difficult to put my hope for a solid outing on the shoulders of Luis Castillo, who was tied for the league lead in home runs allowed (19) entering Monday’s game.

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Castillo, however, had different things on his mind when he toed the rubber on Monday night. Castillo allowed only 1 run on 5 hits in 5.1 innings. He also struck out five batters and only walked one. I don’t care how poorly the Reds’ offense has played out of the All-Star break, if your starter allows only one run you’re, at the very least, in the game.

A chance. That’s exactly what Castillo’s outing gave the Cincinnati Reds on Monday night. In the previous three games, the slow starts by the Reds’ bats and poor pitching performances by the starters put Cincinnati in early holes that they couldn’t climb out of.

Yes, this team has been resilient all season. To start the season as poorly as they did (3-18), and to now have a respectable record of 44-56, shows just that. But, when you look up at the scoreboard, as the Reds did over the weekend, it can be demoralizing when it’s 6-0 in the top of the 6th or 8-0 in the top of the 4th.

The Reds’ bats will come alive, but the starting pitching has to have more performances like that of Castillo on Monday night in order for Cincinnati to win games. The Reds didn’t have a single hit against a rookie pitcher through seven innings, and yet still came back to win the game.

Luis Castillo has shown flashes all season. He had 10 strikeouts against the Cardinals back in early June. Also, in perhaps his best game of the season, Castillo went 6.2 allowing only 1 run to the Chicago Cubs earlier this month.

His outing on Monday bodes well for the Reds going forward. Earlier in the season, he struggled to keep the ball in the ballpark. However, he’s allowed only one home run in his last five starts. In the month of July, Castillo is 3-1 with a 3.00 ERA. He’s struck out 16 and allowed only 3 walks.

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Castillo has, perhaps, has the highest ceiling of the Reds’ crop of young pitchers. His fastball is consistently clocked in the mid-to-upper 90’s and his changeup is his go-to pitch in key situations. Monday night, he showed why he has the potential to be the ace of this staff going forward.