Reds: 5 bold predictions for the second-half of the 2021 MLB season

DENVER, COLORADO - JULY 13: Nick Castellanos #2 of the Cincinnati Reds looks on from the dugout during the 91st MLB All-Star Game. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
DENVER, COLORADO - JULY 13: Nick Castellanos #2 of the Cincinnati Reds looks on from the dugout during the 91st MLB All-Star Game. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /
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Luis Castillo #58 of the Cincinnati Reds throws a pitch.
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – JULY 11: Luis Castillo #58 of the Cincinnati Reds throws a pitch. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images) /

3. Reds pitcher Luis Castillo lowers his ERA below 3.00.

As The Office’s Michael Scott once said, “It takes a big man to admit his mistakes, and I am that big man.” All kidding aside, I have no problem eating crow when it comes to my early-season criticism of Reds’ Opening Day starter Luis Castillo. La Piedra has turned things around.

Over his last eight starts, Castillo posted a 1.97 ERA and has allowed opposing batters to hit just .171 during that span. Castillo has struck out 48 batters over the last 50 innings in which he’s pitched, and he’s only allowed two balls to leave the yard.

Aside from Trevor Bauer, Luis Castillo was the Reds best starting pitcher in 2020. La Piedra performed exceedingly well in his first playoff start, and most fans expected that level of dominance to carry over to the 2021 season.

Well, it took the better part of two months, but Castillo appears to have figured things out. Castillo’s ERA, which was sitting at 7.71 on May 13th, has shrunk to 4.65. Through those first eight games, Castillo had just 29 punch outs and only one game with six strikeouts or more. Since then, Castillo has 67 Ks in 11 games and has struck out six or more batters seven times.

What we’ve seen from Luis Castillo recently is exactly the type of pitcher the Cincinnati Reds need him to be if they hope to compete for the NL Central crown down the stretch. That said, I believe Castillo will continue to dominate in the coming months and post the lowest ERA of his career.

Prior to this season, Castillo’s best ERA was the 3.12 he put up in his rookie season in which he started just 15 games. Last season, Castillo posted a 3.21 ERA, but only made 11 starts due to the coronavirus pandemic. By the time the 2021 season is up, I expect Castillo to have an ERA below 3.00.