Reds: Luis Castillo shows why he should start potential Wild Card Game

CINCINNATI, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 17: Luis Castillo #58 of the Cincinnati Reds reacts after recording a strikeout in the third inning. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 17: Luis Castillo #58 of the Cincinnati Reds reacts after recording a strikeout in the third inning. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

The closest thing to a preview of the 2021 National League Wild Card Game was played at Great American Ball Park last night. The Cincinnati Reds defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-1 and Luis Castillo was a big reason why the Redlegs emerged victorious.

Since the Reds emerged as a contender for the final Wild Card spot, there has been a lot of debate among the Cincinnati faithful about which starting pitcher should get the ball in a winner-take-all game in October.

After last night’s brilliant performance from Castillo, the right-hander has certainly asserted himself as the leader in the clubhouse. Both Sonny Gray and Wade Miley will get the opportunity to lay claim to that gig as well, as the veteran hurlers will get the call on Saturday and Sunday respectively.

Reds starter Luis Castillo lays claim to potential start in Wild Card Game.

Luis Castillo was on his game last night, and he had to be. With the reigning World Champions in town and Cy Young candidate Walker Buehler on the mound for the Los Angeles Dodgers, La Piedra had to put up a stellar performance. He did just that.

Castillo pitched into the seventh inning, totaled 111 pitched and recorded 10 punch outs. Last night was the second time all season and the first time since May 18th against the San Francisco Giants that Castillo has reached double-digit strikeouts.

Castillo’s teammates and his manager raved about the 29-year-old’s performance following the game. Reds’ skipper David Bell called it Castillo’s best performance. His battery mate Tucker Barnhart said that he’d take his chances against anybody with La Piedra on the mound. Shortstop Kyle Farmer called Castillo’s performance electric. Castillo, courtesy of translator Jorge Merlos, had this to say via

"“We’re playing a high-quality team with great batters. With everything involved, it definitely felt like a playoff game today. But for that reason, I felt even more focused today. I thank God that we were able to come out on top, and I was able to have a great performance, too.”"

Given the stakes, it’s hard to argue that last night wasn’t Luis Castillo’s best outing of the 2021 season. It’s even more difficult to argue that he shouldn’t be the starting pitcher for the Reds should Cincinnati be fortunate enough to secure that final Wild Card spot.

The other candidates would obviously be Sonny Gray, who opposes Max Scherzer today, and Wade Miley. LA’s ace Clayton Kershaw will battle Miley during Sunday’s series finale at Great American Ball Park. Tyler Mahle and his fantastic road ERA could also be considered.

At the end of the day, Castillo has made the statement that he’d be David Bell’s best option in a winner-take-all game during the first week of October. If the rotation holds, Castillo should have three more starts this season and would face off against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the season finale.

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If Bell is afforded the ability, he could set his rotation to be a bit different given that the Reds have an off-day on Monday, September 27th and Thursday September 30th. It’ll be an interesting story to follow, but first, the Cincinnati Reds have to make a run at that final Wild Card spot.