Cincinnati Reds: It’s time for Luis Castillo to be embraced as the ace

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 04: Luis Castillo #58 of the Cincinnati Reds in action. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 04: Luis Castillo #58 of the Cincinnati Reds in action. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

Reds fans need to let go of Trevor Bauer and embrace Luis Castillo.

Let it go, Reds Country. While it’s fun to think about, it’s time for fans of the Cincinnati Reds to dismiss the foolish notion of the team re-signing free agent pitcher and Cy Young-winner Trevor Bauer. Instead, the fanbase should turn their attention to one of their own and embrace the brilliance of soon-to-be ace Luis Castillo.

Some fans may already refer to Castillo as an ace, and that’s fine. But I think the term is thrown around a bit too much nowadays. An ace is the unquestioned, best pitcher on a team’s staff. Last year, it was Trevor Bauer, but heading into 2021, it must be Luis Castillo.

Castillo was the team’s Opening Day starter in 2019, but lost that distinction last season as Sonny Gray opened the year on the hill for the Redlegs. Castillo picked up the ball in second game of the 2020 season and pitched brilliantly. The right-hander struck out and allowed just one run on six hits. Unfortunately, the Reds lost the game 6-4.

That was an unfortunate set of circumstances last season for Castillo who didn’t pick up his first win until his eighth start on September 4th against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Yikes! But don’t read too much into that. While Castillo struggled a bit early, La Piedra still struck out 52 batters over 37.1 innings of work during those first seven games.

We often lamented the BAbip for the Reds offense in 2020. Cincinnati’s BAbip of .245 was last in the league, suggesting several bounces didn’t go the Reds way last season. Looking at Castillo’s BAbip in 2020, it seems as though the same thing happened to him through his first seven starts, as opposing team’s BAbip was .379, which was .112 points higher than his .267 batting average against.

Over the final month of the season, however, Castillo’s numbers started to square with the type of pitcher he’s established himself to be. In his final five starts of the season, LaPiedra posted a 2.20 ERA, allowed a .190 batting average against, and struck out 37 batters over 32.2 innings while allowing just one round tripper.

Luis Castillo is the real deal, folks. The soon-to-be 28-year-old is entering the first year of his arbitration window, and we’ve made the case that Cincinnati’s front office shouldn’t fool around and instead extend Castillo beyond his three year of arbitration. Doing so would give the team predictability moving forward and secure one of the top pitchers in the league for the next several years.

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It’s time for Reds Country to come to the reality that Trevor Bauer is not coming back. The good news is, Luis Castillo is going nowhere fast. He is, however, establishing himself as one of the best young pitchers in the game. That should be enough to get the fanbase excited heading into next season.