Cincinnati Reds: Reviewing Luis Castillo’s 2018 Season

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)
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) /
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The 2018 season was full of highs and lows for Cincinnati Reds starter Luis Castillo. Let’s take a glance what his season looked like.

Luis Castillo was seen as the up and coming, fireballing right-hander after being acquired from the Marlins before the 2017 season. Two years later, he will be a frontrunner alongside Alex Wood to man the top rotation spot  for the Cincinnati Reds in 2019. Let’s review his 2018 season which truly was the tale of two halves, two settings, and two seasons.

Coming into 2018, there was a lot of hype surrounding Luis Castillo after a breakout 2017 in which he went 3-7 with a 3.12 ERA and 144 ERA+. His electric fastball, sitting at 97-98 MPH, consistently was and is his go to pitch for striking hitters out.

In GABP however, relying on your fastball can come back to haunt you. Castillo gave up 11 home runs on the year in 15 games started in his 2017 campaign and backslid in 2018. He gave up 14 home runs at home (14 games started) while surrendering 14 long balls on the road (17 games started).

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HIGHS:

  • 7/29/18 vs. Philadelphia Phillies – 7 scoreless innings of work with 9 Ks in a 4-0 W
  • 9/1/18 @ St. Louis Cardinals – Win in 6.2 IP scoreless with only 2 hits allowed and 11 K (this one feels especially good against the Cards)
  • 9/21/18 @ Miami Marlins – 8.1 scoreless innings against his first team to end his season

LOWS:

  • 4/27/18 @ Minnesota Twins – 1 IP 5 ER and was fortunate to get the no decision in a 15-9 victory
  • 8/25/18 @ Chicago Cubs – 3.1 IP 5 ER in a loss in which he couldn’t surpass 4 innings of work

Season Review:

His struggles in 2018 however, came down to two halves of the season and the vastly different outings he produced:

  • March – end of June: 87.2 IP 55 ER 5.65 ERA
  • July – end of September: 82 IP 24 ER 2.63 ERA

As the warmer weather arrived, so did his lively right arm, posting ace numbers in the second half of the season after a dismal start to the year (still not as bad as Homer Bailey, PEOPLE DON’T FORGET).

Cincinnati is not a pitcher friendly environment, so it would be easy to write off his 14 home runs allowed at home as a major factor in his high ERA. What if I told you Castillo was actually a better pitcher at home than he was on the road?

Taking a look at his stats, it’s clear he actually preferred to pitch in the confines of Great American Ballpark:

  • Home: 82 IP 32 ER 3.51 ERA
  • Away: 87.2 IP 49 ER 5.03 ERA

If Castillo can improve his numbers on the road in 2019 while getting off to a hotter start, he could be in for a big year. This is an important time in his career in which he needs to prove his value as he reaches his arbitration years.

Next. Which non-roster invitees make the Opening Day roster?

Arbitration is crucial for ball players as they leverage their value as much as they can before having the ability to seek their first and sometimes only big contract. The 2019 seasonwill be a telling one for the Cincinnati Reds in discovering what level of pitcher they have in Luis Castillo.