Reds have no choice but to option Luis Castillo to Triple-A

CINCINNATI, OHIO - MAY 23: Luis Castillo #58 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches in the first inning. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO - MAY 23: Luis Castillo #58 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches in the first inning. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Luis Castillo was lit up during Sunday’s outing versus the Milwaukee Brewers. The right-hander, once again, struggled during the first inning, allowing three runs to cross the plate before the Reds offense even stepped into the batter’s box.

Castillo has left the Reds with no choice; the front office must option La Piedra to Triple-A Louisville in order to work out the kinks. Cincinnati has several hurlers who could temporarily replace Castillo until he gets his mechanics right.

The Reds must take extreme measures in order to fix Luis Castillo.

In case you were curious, yes, Luis Castillo has two minor league options remaining. While sending their Opening Day starter down to the minor leagues may seem like an extreme move, desperate times call for desperate measures.

Castillo is 1-7 on the season with a 7.61 ERA. Castillo’s strikeout-rate, according to FanGraphs, is just 19.9% after posting a career-high (30.5%) last season. His HR/9 has gone from 0.64 (2020) to 1.52 (2021). The right-hander’s 8.56 K/9 is the lowest of his career.

After a successful start in his previous outing versus the San Francisco Giants saw Luis Castillo put up 11 strikeouts though five innings, a certain faction of Reds Country proclaimed that La Piedra was back. However, another group of fans, myself included, thought the performance was good and a step in the right direction. However, I never felt as though Castillo was back to his old self.

Yesterday’s outing was proof that Castillo is not back to normal. The 29-year-old walked in the game’s opening run when allowed a free pass to Travis Shaw with the bases loaded. The next batter, Willy Adames, then singled in two more to give the Brewers a 3-0 cushion before any of the Reds bat even took a cut. Castillo then surrendered a two-run homer in the third inning.

Castillo exited after surrendering five earned runs on five hits and an uncharacteristic four free passes. Castillo struck out five and was replaced midway through the sixth inning by Michael Feliz after walking Adames and allowing a single to Luis Urias.

The Reds have several capable arms who could replace Luis Castillo.

Should the Cincinnati Reds make the decision to option Luis Castillo to the Louisville Bats, the organization has no shortage of capable arms in Triple-A. With Wade Miley on the shelf, Bell was already going to be forced to summon the right-handed arm of Tony Santillan, José De León, or Vladimir Gutierrez for the road series versus the Chicago Cubs.

Castillo’s days off just happen to lineup perfectly with Santillan, who’s been among Cincinnati’s top pitching prospects for the last couple of years. The hulking, right-handed Texan is 1-1 on the season with a 1.86 ERA in four starts. The 24-year-old has 24 strikeouts in 19.1 innings of work.

The 2021 season should be Castillo's last in Cincy. Next

Did anyone ever foresee a scenario when the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day starter would need a trip to the minor leagues in order to get himself right? Absolutely not, but here we are. Castillo is of no use to the Reds playoff pursuit if he’s pitching the way he has through his first 10 starts.