Luis Castillo's return could be bad news for Reds starter Vladimir Gutierrez

Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Vladimir Gutierrez (53) throws a pitch.
Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Vladimir Gutierrez (53) throws a pitch. / Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Every day, Luis Castillo gets one step closer to returning to the Cincinnati Reds starting rotation. That means, every day one of the current pitchers is one step closer to being shipped to Triple-A Louisville.

Process of elimination would put the target on either Vladimir Gutierrez, Nick Lodolo, or Reiver Sanmartin. The Reds are not going to send Hunter Greene back to the minors and Tyler Mahle was the team's Opening Day starter.

With the lack of left-handed relievers in the bullpen and his lack of success as a starter, one would think that Sanmartin is likely ticketed for a relief role in the very near future. That means it's down to Gutierrez and Lodolo. Sorry Vlad, but I think you're headed back to the minors when Luis Castillo returns from the IL.

Reds RHP Vladimir Gutierrez could be optioned to AAA when Luis Castillo returns.

It's nothing personal, but given how Vladimir Gutierrez has begun the 2022 season, it would appear that the right-hander could use a tune up in Triple-A. Heading into today's game versus the San Diego Padres, Gutierrez is 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA.

Now, it's early, so those numbers tend to be inflated. And with a abbreviated spring training, it's difficult to predict how players are going to perform during the first month-plus of the season. But after watching Gutierrez struggle down the stretch last season, it appears as though the 26-year-old has some bad habits that may need to be broken with a trip to the Derby City.

Luis Castillo threw 35 pitches in a live batting practice session on Tuesday, and according to the Cincinnati Enquirer's Bobby Nightengale, La Piedra will begin a rehab assignment on Sunday. This is great news for the Reds who desperately need to get healthy. Cincinnati leads the league with 13 players currently on the IL.

One area where Vladimir Guttierrez has faired well has been the long ball. Heading into Wednesday's game, Gutierrez has yet to allow a home run. But, the Cuban has allowed five free passes and hit two batters while striking out just five.

Reiver Sanmartin, as was mentioned earlier, will also be on the chopping block. Both Sanmartin and Gutierrez has minor league options remaining, so a trip down I-71 would not be permanent. There's also the possibility that Sanmartin goes to the bullpen and one of the relievers is sent to Triple-A.

Vladimir Gutierrez has an opportunity today to show why he belongs in the starting rotation. Maybe he can do something that Lodolo and Sanmartin were unable to accomplish, hold onto a lead for more than a half-inning.

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