This week’s respondents are Chad Dotson, Matt Habel, Steve Mancuso, Clay Marshall and Tom Mitsoff.
Our Daily Reds Obsession: Who will be the Reds Opening Day starting pitcher in 2018? How about in 2019?
Chad: Luis Castillo and Luis Castillo. I want to believe that the Reds will go out and acquire a top-shelf starting pitcher, either this off-season or next. But that’s easier said than done, and the Reds could justify waiting until after next season to really jump-start the process by bringing in a pitcher like that. So if the Reds can’t get Chris Archer or Marcus Stroman, Castillo looks like the default choice to be the Opening Day pitcher next year, although you could always see the Reds handing that start to Homer Bailey, as the veteran of a very young an inexperienced pitching staff.
2019 is a different story. By that time, I expect that Luis Castillo will have firmly established himself as a legit ace, or at least a #2-type pitcher. He may be the Opening Day starter for years to come.
Matt: Process of elimination takes out most of the prospects due to lack of development this year. Stephenson would have to really blow people away in spring training. Luis Castillo is a good choice based on ability and 2017 results but knowing the Reds I think they will go with Homer Bailey. He said himself that not having the full year to prepare hurt him. I expect him to have a solid spring and I think Price would rather have the veteran take the mound as the ace than the still somewhat unproven Castillo, who I think will earn that role for 2019.
Steve: If they’re all healthy, Homer Bailey will get the Opening Day start in 2018. His veteran status and contract demand it. But I wouldn’t rule out Anthony DeSclafani. It’s easy to forget how great of a season he had in 2016. Over 20 starts, DeSclafani had an ERA of 3.28. He pitched 180+ innings in 2015. If he’s on schedule, I could see Price giving AD the first start and Bailey the second. Luis Castillo, fresh off his NL Cy Young Award, will receive the 2019 Opening Day assignment. Even if the Reds do trade for a top-of-rotation starter, they’ll give priority to the home-grown guys for Opening Day. Mat Latos pitched the second game in 2012.
Clay: Assuming he’s healthy, I think Homer Bailey is a lock to start on Opening Day. After two very tumultuous years for the Reds’ rotation, such a move would provide a certain level of security blanket reassurance that 2018 won’t be such a rocky ride. Although he got knocked around pretty badly in a handful of starts after coming off the DL in 2017, Bailey pitched well more often than he didn’t, a trend that will hopefully into 2018. As for 2019, your guess is as good as mine. It’s tempting to go with Luis Castillo, but I think Bailey will once again get the nod if he’s healthy.
Tom: Barring injury, which never can be barred among this team’s pitchers, Luis Castillo will be the team’s Opening Day pitcher in 2018. Castillo led Reds starters in WHIP (1.07) and batting average against (.202) despite making only 15 starts. His 3.12 ERA was best among any Reds starter with 15 or more starts. He showed the poise and ability to pitch in the clutch of a possible top-of-the-rotation pitcher for the foreseeable future. For 2019? I certainly hope Castillo’s performance from 2017 continues to grow for years. But with this team’s injury history, I am going to predict that Tyler Mahle will start Opening Day in 2019.