Luis Castillo is an integral part of the Cincinnati Reds pitching rotation. Since his MLB debut, he has wowed everyone with an electric fastball and devastating changeup. For the last two years, Castillo has been one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. This year, however, he has taken a major step backward. We’re here to dive into what may possibly be the case, and how he can get back on track.
It Starts with the Fastball
Luis Castillo has a phenomenal pitch mix. He uses a fastball and a sinker to set up his money pitch, the circle changeup. In years past, Castillo located quite well and touched 100 MPH often. Batters didn’t hit him very well, because they sold out for the changeup and were behind on the gas. This year though, batters are hitting well over .300 0n the hard stuff when facing the right-hander. He has consistently gotten behind in counts, allowing hitters to rule out the changeup and sit on the fastball. Castillo not being able to throw the changeup, is like a hockey player trying to play without a stick. It just doesn’t work.
He Isn’t Following His Norms
So far in 2021, Luis Castillo isn’t following his norms as we’ve seen in years past. In 2019 and 2020, Castillo regularly averaged about 98 MPH on his fastball and sinker. While it’s not a huge dip, he’s only averaging 96 MPH on those pitches in 2021. His changeup hasn’t taken any velocity dips or rises whatsoever. The other thing is, he’s throwing his fastball just as much as his changeup. In years past, Castillo threw his changeup around 35% of the time, while his fastball came in around 27%. This year though, he’s throwing the fastball almost 30% of the time, while he throws his changeup the same amount. This is a testament to him being unable to locate and getting behind in the count. This, in turn, allows players to tee off on his fastball and get him out of the game early.
What the Reds Should Do
This is a big problem for the Reds. After losing Trevor Bauer to free agency this offseason, it has hurt them that one of their top pitchers isn’t performing well at all. Couple that with some injuries, and it has been a recipe for disaster for Cincinnati. Luis Castillo takes the mound once every five days, and that used to come with a good feeling that the Reds would get a great outing. Now though, it feels as if they won’t make it past the first inning of the game, as Castillo has regularly struggled to get past the first, and has put the Reds behind from the get-go.
One way that the Reds can quell this is bringing up a pitcher from AAA to take one of Castillo’s starts. This would allow Luis Castillo to get a break and work on the side with pitching coach Derek Johnson. One of those prospects could be Tony Santillan who has dominated so far for the AAA-Louisville Bats. In order for the Reds to get Castillo back on track, it’ll take a wake-up call for him. Clearly, Castillo needs it, and it could be a good chance for the Reds to get a look at an upcoming prospect and see how he performs in the Major Leagues.
All we can do right now is play it by ear as to what the Reds want to do. Castillo is 1-7 with 7.71 ERA this season. He has been nothing short of disappointing for the Reds. Hopefully, they can get him back on track so this team can make a real push towards the postseason and the division crown.
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