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.

Starting Pitchers

Name IP ERA xFIP K% BB%
Luis Castillo (Class AA) 80.1 2.58 2.70 25.6% 4.1%
Stephen Strasburg 90.2 3.28 3.28 28.1% 6.8%

The Nationals have a formidable starting rotation, and Stephen Strasburg falls into that category.

Bullpen

Everyone should be available after yesterday’s day off. Lisalverto Bonilla is likely the long man if Castillo gets in trouble early.

Starting Lineups

Reds Nationals
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

Do you agree with this guy’s tweet below?

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.

Tom Mitsoff is a lifelong Reds fan who grew up in the Dayton suburb of Beavercreek, Ohio. He lived a teenage life atypical of most his age by prioritizing following the Reds. At one point in the 1970s and early 1980s, Tom kept complete scorecards on more than 1,000 consecutive Reds games. Now that adult life has forced him to move on from his beloved Southwest Ohio, he follows the Reds daily through MLB.TV and other online media sources, including Redleg Nation.

Join the conversation! 116 Comments

  1. At this point I would consider Peraza leading off to be a sign that Price is starting to figure things out. I’m that desperate for a sign.

    • Why? Peraza has an even lower OBP than Hamilton. We are almost three months into the season and Peraza has a grand total of five walks — less than one every other week.

      • Because Peraza isn’t Hamilton. The first thing Price needs to accept is that he’s allowed to let someone else lead off. It would be a huge step for him. Gotta take this one step at a time.

    • Reds OBP by lineup slot this year:
      1-.288
      2-.312
      3-.411
      4-.341
      5-.358
      6-.323
      7-.347
      8-.328

      Price is very stuck in his Dusty-like way of constructing the batting order

  2. Votto would be the first HR derby participant to choke up on the bat several inches.

  3. Audio only for me tonight. Interesting that Garrett heads back to L’ville … I like that move. We’ll see if the can work things out and then come back in better shape.

  4. I got to see the Reds Wednesday in person for first time in 5 years! Tropicana Field, despite having a bad reputation, was a cozy ballpark and being indoors is definitely helpful in afternoon games. Of course, it is not as nice as GABP and their scoreboard was a little too low to see some of the important stats (people in front, walkway). Unfortunately, we couldn’t see a win but did see Schebler deposit a ball a section over from us and Billy throw out a runner at third. Also, it was my first time seeing the Reds away from Cincy.

    Overall, a fun and great experience! Go Reds!

  5. This was such a well-written article.

  6. I can’t add much to all of that but what we all know. The 2 most telling splits for @Reds are (1) wins when Hamilton gets on; (2) wins when SP has quality starts.

  7. See that Winker is not playing tonight. Great for his development.

  8. The Opening Ceremonies for my son’s track meet this weekend were cancelled tonight due to incessant rain and the Old Cossack just got back home in time for the game. As disappointed as I was that the cermonies were cancelled for my son’s first state track meet, I am really looking forward to watch Castillo in his first big league start.

    Of course there’s no Winker in the lineup…boo…hiss! I was so enthusiastic when Price was hired as the manager, but I will be even more enthusiastic when he is no longer the Reds manager.

  9. Finnegan could be back Monday?

  10. http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/nerd-game-scores-for-june-23-2017/

    Fangraphs has high hopes for this game. Best of luck to Luis!

  11. A 2 strike bunt attempt to lead off the game???

  12. Scooter!

  13. “The Babe” Gennett. !!!!!!

  14. Let’s go reds…get Castillo a few runs

  15. Raise your hand if you saw this coming.

  16. Castillo comes to the plate before he toes the rubber. Amazing.

  17. Finally!!!!!Peraza uses his lower body and steps into it.

  18. First 10 at-bats of the game went about as well as possible for the Reds. 11th wasnt so pretty

  19. Despite giving up the homer, Castillo didn’t back down or give in. He just kept throwing strikes — some of which may have been a bit out of the zone. The Nationals appeared to be swinging at anything close perhaps because of Castillo’s reputation for good control.

    • How often do you see a pitcher who is said to have a flaw of “throwing too many strikes?” I’m not sure have seen that one before. On this team, they should build a monument for him.

    • You don’t have much time for consideration at 100mph!

  20. Wow!!!! I’m as a big a Dan Straily fan as the Strailey’s but I don’t see how Miami could look at Castillo and let him go? What else do you want in a young guy? He throws 100 with a pretty nice delivery and he hasn’t even filled out yet!

    • I’ve wondered the same … and they traded him twice! (See article above.) I’m still waiting to see what reason the Marlins had for doing that.

      • Unbelievable….kid has awesome control and now he walks the bases loaded? It has to be tough though….going from pitching in front of 4000 to 40,000

  21. Come on kid show us something here. Come get them.

  22. The control has taken a hike.

  23. Yes sir!! This kid can be a 3.25 era type #2 starter easily with his talent! He’s got to stay with the big boys you would think? He’ll mow down AAA and that doesn’t mean much.

  24. Scooter/Suarez/Votto…..1-2-3? Almost any combination you could make would be better then watching Billy leading off and going 1-14 every series?

  25. Scooter Gennett hits the ball hard and he gives you a good at bat. With Herrera being injured and still yet to take that next step….Gennett gives you another lefty bat with pop to go behind Votto and schebler and with Winker. I think he eases the loss of Cozart.
    Perhaps a scenario the Reds need in 2018 is to get a slick fielding middle infield specialist to back up Peraza and Gennett. I’m comfortable with Gennett at 2b.

    • Problem is that all Peraza may ever be is a slick fielding mid inf specialist? Their pitching would have to improve by a ton to carry Billy, Peraza, and Barnhart half the time.

      • You may be correct…but things need to play out another 90 games with Winker added to the pot.

        • Well it is the Reds so Winker and Castillo will get sent down. Cozart will come back and they’ll keep him and play him so Peraza won’t play fulltime either. They’ll do everything they can do to make sure the questions we have now are still there next April.

  26. 3-1 center cut Bob Steve style….can’t have that! He’ll learn!

  27. Kid is 1-0 on everyone…..not good! This is as tough as its going to get though. Great experience for him!

  28. Hoping for DP #3 … somehow, some way …

  29. HUGE sigh of relief … time to hand it over to Lorenzen.

  30. DONE!!! 5 ip 2 earned vs the best offense in mlb at their place!! Not bad at all!!

  31. Man, the walks were a little much, but he showed the ability to make a big pitch when he had to — very encouraging. He’s done at nearly 100 pitches.

  32. Luis Castillo gets a big hug from Max Jenkins, so it looks like the night is over.

    He has major league stuff. I think he gets a few more starts.

    Why not?

  33. So glad we had Arroyo and Rookie > Castillo all this time! Genius! Small market teams have enough problems beating big market $$ but they have zero chance when their front office/manager are working against them too.

    • Devil’s advocate: you would rather have had Castillo in the major league rotation from day one as opposed to honing his stuff in AA?

      As for the the front office, let’s give credit where it’s due for acquiring him in the first place!

      • I guess so but they rushed Lorenzen up to the Reds at 23 with less then 200 ip in the minors. Castillo is 24 with over 400 ip in the minors.

        • Good point. Although I suspect the thought process is that this is a team that will be lucky to win 80 games in the best case scenario, no sense in rushing everyone.

          I think Castillo’s start tonight is very encouraging. He’ll he innings-limited this year anyway, with the intention of easing him, hopefully, into next year’s rotation. I don’t mind too much sacrificing this year if we can open next year with a solid starting five.

  34. So now we need DP#4 just to keep it from getting out of hand??? How many magic wishes do you think I have tonight?

  35. Is Lorenzen over rated by Reds fans?

    • Listening to the radio feed. They are circulating the “running out of gas” theory for Lorenzen and others. I tend to buy into it to a certain extent.

      • If that is true, how would he and Iglesias ever get to 100 innings in a season, then?

        • I don’t think Iggy has 100 in him anyway … but that’s just me. For Lorenzen, I think it’s a matter of more innings on specific days with time off in between … you know, kind of like a starting pitcher.

      • Clearly the ratio of innings pitched via SPv RP is too high.

        That said…the nationals are the best team in the NL minus their bullpen. They have 7-8 All stars…2 MVP candidates and 2 cy young candidates.

    • Up to 99 mph with movement. His stuff isn’t overrated but you still have to make pitches. Stephenson has a great arm too and he’s terrible

  36. Thankfully!!! Can we start hitting against a mediocre bullpen and get some back, please?

  37. Lorenzen has been bad lately. Peralta same thing. Man…can they ever put it together enough to win some games?

  38. Bob Steve tonite for Lville

    5.0 2 1 1 2 7 1 (1 solo hr)

  39. OK … I guess that’s it for me tonight. At least the rookie didn’t lose his first start … our 4th best bullpen is dropping quickly.

    Night all!

  40. It would be nice to escape with a win, but that seems to be a Herculean task of late between the starting pitching one night and the bullpen the next. No matter how great the offense is, it never seems to be enough.

  41. Well for starters Lorenzen struck out Rendon on a 1-2 pitch and they didn’t call it. It was right down the middle? He hung a breaking ball before that to Murphy down-n-in….worst spot vs lefty. Peralta same thing w/Barry Bonds Jr. over there on a 1-2 pitch. You throw 99 then you shouldn’t be getting beat on hanging breaking balls?

  42. Dusty bean ball next

  43. There are many pitchers with great arms and good stuff. Some of them are young Reds pitchers. The secret is throwing where you want to throw it….known previously as control. Lorenzen and others have not mastered this yet. Strasburg has not done it either. Success comes from how often a pitcher has games when he does it…10% of the time..20%….50%….75%…. and then there is Kershaw, Sale, Sherzer, Kuechel, Bumgarner etc

  44. Hamilton is approaching disaster status. Time for Shebler to CF and Winker to RF.

    • I was thinking earlier, at what point do you give Schebler starts in center and sit Billy? Mendoza line?

  45. Sure feels like Peraza, the pitchers spot and Hamilton are pretty much auto outs at this point.

  46. Blake Wood in this situation will not end well.

  47. Blake Wood? In the eighth inning of a game tied 5-5? Lordy!

  48. Cingrani next? The problem is pitching until it is not.

  49. That was a nice job by Cingrani.

  50. Great job by Cingrani when they needed it most.

  51. Billy is now at .167 for June….lets keep leading him off though. 40th time is the charm! He’s going to want to start somewhere and it shouldn’t be with the Reds. He’ll have a good run for 3 weeks but then get hurt. We know his patterns by now!

  52. What are the chances of no walk off here?

  53. Rendon should have been rung up twice tonight. By Lorenzen and Brice. Ump squeezing the last place team. Nice job Brice. He has nice movement.

  54. Albers looks like Rick Rueschel out there. Little hefty.

    • Hey hey hey Fat Albers….lol. If you’re not old enough to get it….you can google it!

  55. 9 walks

  56. I kind of like Brice! He’s got alot of movement on the ball. If they truly understand what a rebuild is then they’d release Wood/Bonilla and put Shackelford/Herget in the pen or atleast Wood for Shackelford. Wood is 32 and on the decline. Or you have enough starters then maybe ease Romano into mlb in the pen.

  57. Amazing how,shallow the outfielders play for Peraza and Hamilton.

    • It’d be nice if peraza would start using his damn legs when he swings.

      • He did on the first time up. I about fell out of the chair. That was his only hit. Go figure.

        • A couple of his couple of homers, lol, were absolutely mashed….make adjustments son

  58. The bullpen is spent thanks to the lousy starting staff. Where do the Reds go from here?

  59. Raisel….fastball fastball fastball? Hopeless….they just find ways to lose. One run was on the ump with a 1-2 K that wasn’t called with Lorenzen but they just suck

  60. Can I get a refund on my MLB.tv?

  61. Bullpen is indeed burned out, and now showing it. Even with Castillo pitching, and Bailey back, and when Finnegan comes back…they can only be expected to go 5 to 6 innings tops, which means bullpen already tired…has to pitch even more. This can lead to injuries for the relievers of the Reds. Also…the Reds are indeed a up and down team, or teeter totter team…they get a bunch of runs in the first inning and hits as well, then nothing really in the next 8 innings. They never threaten at all against a bad Nationals bullpen.

  62. Nice to see Cingrani do well, Chris Welch said Cingrani went back to doing what he did as a starter.

  63. I get the Reds’ games on Directv Extra Innings. While the team’s play is disappointing, play by play guy Thom’s incessant prattle is far worse. Sidekick Chris aids and abets, but at least pays some attention to the game. Can’t someone official critique these guys and help them offer at least a quality broadcast, even for a struggling team.

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About Tom Mitsoff

Tom Mitsoff is a lifelong Reds fan who grew up in the Dayton suburb of Beavercreek, Ohio. He lived a teenage life atypical of most his age by prioritizing following the Reds. At one point in the 1970s and early 1980s, Tom kept complete scorecards on more than 1,000 consecutive Reds games. Now that adult life has forced him to move on from his beloved Southwest Ohio, he follows the Reds daily through MLB.TV and other online media sources, including Redleg Nation.

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