Photo Credit: Red Reporter
It’s been a while since the Cincinnati Reds have had a true number one in their rotation. But, In his third season in the big leagues, Luis Castillo looks to have made the jump to being just that–and maybe more. There arguably has not been a better pitcher in baseball to start to the 2019 season.
Castillo has always had really good stuff. He has a fastball that touches the upper nineties and a ridiculously good changeup. This year, though, he has taken his repertoire to a whole new level. In his last start against the San Diego Padres, Castillo posted a line of 6 innings, 4 hits, one run, and 9 strikeouts and the win. Six of those strikeouts came on swings and misses on his changeup, a pitch that has quickly become one of the hardest to hit in baseball. His ERA after giving up just a single run actually went up to 1.47. That’s how good he has been this year.
Giving up hits has become somewhat of a rarity for Castillo. In fact, he leads the league in fewest hits allowed per nine innings at a mere 3.8 (!!). The next closest are Matt Shoemaker and Trevor Bauer at 5.0 and 5.2, respectively. Castillo also leads the majors in pitching WAR, and is top ten in total strikeouts and strikeouts per nine innings. His striking out batters a 34% clip and allowing extra base hits to less than 2% of batters. He’s been essentially impossible to hit.
At 26, Castillo is only just now entering his prime. If he’s able to consistently be this good, he could be a future All-Star and Cy Young contender–something the Reds haven’t had since Johnny Cueto.