Tonight’s game has a bit more intrigue than might normally be expected for loyal fans of a last-place team which has lost 11 of its last 12 games.
After weeks of watching a seemingly endless parade of starting pitchers who have little business on this or any major league team, a wave of change hopefully begins tonight. Twenty-four-year-old righthander Luis Castillo makes his major league debut, making the jump from Class AA Pensacola.
Tomorrow night, Homer Bailey returns for his first appearance since last August 28, and his ninth appearance in the last three seasons. With two no-hitters under his belt, Bailey gives Reds fans some hope for veteran pitching stability. Hopefully following in a few days will be lefthander Brandon Finnegan, who was expected to be a rotation mainstay this season.
Castillo’s path to a Reds debut has been a bit unusual. He was drafted initially by the San Francisco Giants, who sent him to the Marlins in December 2014 along with fellow minor league pitcher Kendry Flores for infielder Casey McGehee.
Then, at the 2016 trade deadline, Castillo, righthander Jarred Cosart, first base prospect Josh Naylor and reliever Carter Capps went from Miami to San Diego for righthanded starters Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea, and reliever Tayron Guerrero.
But when Rea showed up in Miami, he had elbow problems, prompting a Marlins protest. The resolution was Rea going back to San Diego and Castillo being returned to the Marlins.
Then last January, Reds GM Dick Williams made what has been generally heralded as a sell-high trade in sending Dan Straily to the Marlins for Castillo, righty Austin Brice and outfielder Isaiah White, who just started playing with the Reds’ rookie league team in Billings this week. White played last year with the Marlins’ Class A team, but the Reds started him this year a level lower.
Baseball Prospectus had this to say in January about Castillo:
Suffice it to say that Castillo has been targeted by many teams because of the things he’s done well. His fastball is a true 80-grade pitch, and while it lacks plane or movement the velocity plays deep into games and has touched 101 mph in spurts. Though he lacks premium command, he has above-average control of it and can consistently get ahead of hitters.
Castillo’s slider can be slurvy and inconsistent but has flashed plus at times, with hard tilt and bite. The changeup has some fade with deceptive arm speed, but it’s a clear third pitch as he did not sell it. While older for the level (and overall), Castillo is still a legitimate prospect who could put it together quickly as a late-inning reliever (think Hansel Robles) or a potential mid-rotation starter with a longer developmental path.
That report paints a bit less rosy of a picture than that presented by Steve Mancuso here earlier today. But one thing clear in all views of Castillo is his control. In 460 minor league innings, Castillo has a 2.66 ERA, and a 425 to 121 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The walks per nine innings for his minor league career is 2.37. This year at Pensacola, the numbers are even more impressive, 81 strikeouts in 80.1 innings with only 13 walks – 1.45 walks per nine innings. That will pass the test at any level, and is probably what earned Castillo the call over other candidates in the system.
Perhaps surprisingly, the Reds optioned Amir Garrett to Louisville today to make room on the 25-man roster for Castillo. That’s now three changes to the starting rotation within a week – many at Redleg Nation would say long overdue.
Reds fans are hoping for a win tonight against the 43-29 Nationals, but short of that, are hoping for a Castillo performance that can inspire some hope that there is some starting pitching talent in the Reds system that will at some point excel at the major league level.
|Luis Castillo (Class AA)||80.1||2.58||2.70||25.6%||4.1%|
The Nationals have a formidable starting rotation, and Stephen Strasburg falls into that category.
— Sportradar US (@SportradarUS) June 23, 2017
Everyone should be available after yesterday’s day off. Lisalverto Bonilla is likely the long man if Castillo gets in trouble early.
|CF Billy Hamilton||SS Trea Turner|
|2B Scooter Gennett||LF Brian Goodwin|
|1B Joey Votto||RF Bryce Harper|
|LF Adam Duvall||1B Ryan Zimmerman|
|3B Eugenio Suarez||2B Daniel Murphy|
|RF Scott Schebler||3B Anthony Rendon|
|C Devin Mesoraco||C Matt Wieters|
|SS Jose Peraza||CF Wilmer Difo|
|P Luis Castillo||P Stephen Strasburg|
News and Notes
Joey Votto… in the #HRDerby!?
The slugger says he would consider taking part if asked.
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) June 23, 2017
Do you agree with this guy’s tweet below?
If he wants to mess up his swing the go ahead
— Alex Nathan (@PizzaLobeMan) June 23, 2017
Would participating in the home run derby mess up Votto’s swing as it has done with some others, including Todd Frazier and Adam Duvall?
Players still on the Reds roster from when Nationals manager Dusty Baker managed the Reds include Joey Votto, Zack Cozart, Devin Mesoraco, Bronson Arroyo, Homer Bailey and Tony Cingrani. It’s a bit surprising that there are still that many players on hand from 2013.