Reds manager David Bell caught everyone off guard when he announced that Luis Castillo will be the Opening Day starter against Pittsburgh. The 24-year old Castillo is looking to improve upon what many called a sophomore slump last season. He’ll get his chance on Thursday, March 28 against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The announcement of Castillo as the opening day starter comes as a bit of a surprise given his performance so far this spring. Castillo currently fields a 12.46 era in spring training. His command has been shaky, but his velocity is there, at least at times it is.
To some, last season was considered a sophomore slump. Castillo’s numbers weren’t great and he had a horrific start to the season. In his first six starts, he gave up six home runs and sported a 7.85 era. While those numbers gradually came down, Castillo was inconsistent for the most part of last season. The difference was astronomical compared to his rookie campaign.
In spite of all the negatives surrounding the 26-year old, there are still some positives. His 10.4 k/9 ratio is very impressive. After a poor start to the 2018 season, Castillo finished very strong in the end. In his last 10 games, he went 5-5, with a 2.51 era, and averaged 91 pitches thrown in those games. Opponents batted just .205 during that time. September was even more dominant for the second-year pitcher.
The Reds are hoping that Castillo can find his form and return to the dominant pitcher that he was late last year and in 2017. This also gives the young starter a chance to get the 2019 season started off strongly. The talent is there, Castillo just has to find a way to put it all together. With Alex Wood not healthy enough to go and Sonny Gray still trying to regain his rhythm, Castillo is considered the best option to start. Especially if he can start the season the same way he finished last season.