Cincinnati Reds: New rotation surrounds question marks with reliability

CLEVELAND, OHIO - JULY 09: Luis Castillo #58 and Sonny Gray #54 of the Cincinnati Reds during the 2019 MLB All-Star Game. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OHIO - JULY 09: Luis Castillo #58 and Sonny Gray #54 of the Cincinnati Reds during the 2019 MLB All-Star Game. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Sonny Gray will lead the Cincinnati Reds rotation out of the All-Star break. The new rotation provides the Reds with balance.

The Cincinnati Reds ended the first half of the 2019 season with a starting rotation of Tanner Roark, Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo, Anthony DeSclafani, and Tyler Mahle. The Reds will shuffle the order a little as the team prepares to head out to Colorado.

Gray will lead the charge on Friday as the Cincinnati Reds open the second half of the season against the Colorado Rockies. Roark will follow as the starter during Saturday’s game, and Mahle will pitch the finale on Sunday afternoon.

Following the three-game set in the Mile High City, the Reds will travel east to Chicago to play a three-game set against the North Siders. Castillo will take the bump in the series opener and DeSclafani will bring up the rear on Tuesday before giving way to Gray when the Reds wrap up the series in the Windy City.

Some fans might find it curious that Luis Castillo is not starting the first game against the Rockies. After all, wouldn’t it make the most sense to put your best pitcher on the bump to start the second half in order to give the team a boost going forward? Furthermore, doesn’t it stand to reason that you’d want to give your best pitcher the most opportunities?

While both those statements are true, I see a method to David Bell‘s madness. Castillo is unquestionably the best pitcher in the Reds rotation. That’s why I love the decision to put him on the mound during what will likely be one of the most crucial series for the Reds during the month of July.

Castillo will be the first starter the Cubs see when the Reds visit Wrigley Field. While every game is critical with the NL Central being as jumbled as it is, I’d rather have Castillo on the mound against the division-leader opposed to a team sitting below .500.

By starting Gray in Game 1 against the Rockies, it gives Bell the chance to put his two best pitchers on the bump against the Cubbies and sandwiches the Reds’ biggest question mark in the middle. DeSclafani has been hot and cold this season, so having his most trusted arms surrounding him in the rotation has to give the Reds’ skipper some relief.

Speaking of relief, it should also offer some rest to the bullpen. La Piedra can easily go 6-7 innings when he’s on his game, as can Sonny Gray. DeSclafani and Mahle have shown a propensity to struggle at times, so bookending those two with the likes of Gray, Castillo, and Tanner Roark might ease the reliance on the Cincinnati bullpen.

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Let’s face it, Castillo, Gray, and Roark have been the brightest spots in the Reds’ rotation while DeSclafani and Mahle have been the biggest question marks. So, surrounding your two biggest question marks with your three most reliable starters is a pretty sound strategy.