Cincinnati Reds: Five players to be thankful for heading into next season

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 05: Jose Peraza #9 of the Cincinnati Reds is greeted at home plate by Joey Votto #19 and Scooter Gennett #3 after hitting a solo home run in the first inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on September 5, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 05: Jose Peraza #9 of the Cincinnati Reds is greeted at home plate by Joey Votto #19 and Scooter Gennett #3 after hitting a solo home run in the first inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on September 5, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /
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Cincinnati Reds
ST. LOUIS, MO – JULY 14: Luis Castillo #58 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the first inning at Busch Stadium on July 14, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /

4. Luis Castillo, Starting pitcher

Luis Castillo was the best starting pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds last season. La Piedra went 10-12 with a 4.30 ERA and 165 strikeouts through almost 170 innings pitched in 2018. Castillo was the best among a poor group of starters last season, but the final month of the season showed Castillo’s potential as a top-of-the-rotation starter.

Castillo has one of the most deceptive changeups in all of baseball. It’s his go-to pitch when he’s looking for a strikeout, and when he’s on, it’s virtually unhittable. Castillo led all starting pitchers in starts, innings pitched, strikeouts, ERA, and ERA+.

Unfortunately, Castillo also led all Reds starters in home runs allowed. If Castillo has an Achilles heel it’s his propensity to give up the long ball. Castillo finished among the top of the National League with 28 home runs allowed.

If the Cincinnati Reds make no additions to the starting rotation, which is highly unlikely, Castillo will be the unquestioned No. 1 among the starters. Honestly, unless the Reds bring on board a bonafide ace this winter, Castillo could still be the Opening Day starter when the Reds start the season against the Pirates.

Castillo closed out the 2018 season on fire. The month of September saw Castillo post a 1.09 ERA while allowing opposing batters to hit only .172. If Castillo can carry that type of performance into 2019 he will no doubt lock down the role of ace, regardless of who the Reds add this offseason. Castillo is just about to turn 26-years-old and is not yet arbitration eligible.

If he continues to build on his success Castillo’s got a bright future ahead of him. Reds fans should be thankful that one of the best young pitchers in the National League resides in Cincinnati for the foreseeable future.