Starting pitching is a key need for every single team in the league. Finding an ace can be a daunting task for many teams, but also can provide a plethora of riches when it pans out. Luis Castillo is no doubt the ace of the Cincinnati Reds in 2022, and he has turned into one of the best in baseball. Recently, there have been massive rumors of the Reds moving him in a plethora of different trade deals. That sounds great and all, considering Cincinnati is “rebuilding”, but the Reds should hang onto him. It may sound silly, but he is just too valuable of a piece to let go of.
Castillo is the most experienced Reds starter by a long shot. In 2022, the Reds have three rookies in their rotation, Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo and Graham Ashcraft. Having an ace with the experience Castillo does is immeasurable, because of the impact he has on the young guns. Since entering the league in 2017, Castillo has improved a vast amount, becoming one of the best young arms in baseball. Over his first four full years in the league, he’s pitched 785 innings, and carried a 3.62 ERA with 852 punch outs. This year he was named to his second All-Star team.
Keeping Castillo around by extending him handsomely would no doubt be a welcome move. It would keep an ace in his prime in town, and give the young pitchers on the roster someone they can work with who knows the ropes. Letting him go would undoubtedly stunt the progression of the franchise, and the young pitchers waiting in the wings.
Dirty, Rotten, Filthy, Stinky
Luis Castillo is all of the adjectives you see above, but we don’t know if he’s ever heard of 80’s rock band Warrant. What Castillo HAS heard though, is that he’s one of the nastiest pitchers in baseball. Per Baseball Savant, he might just be the nastiest. He offers a four pitch mix, two of which are elite. His fastball reaches the upper 90’s with ease. Couple that with a sinker, and he’s already cooking with gas. Add in a wipeout slider, and devastating changeup, and you have a starting pitcher that draws comparisons to Pedro Martinez.
Circling back to Baseball Savant, it offers a clear view of Luis Castillo’s effectiveness. His fastball in 2022 alone has a 39.8% whiff rate, meaning he’s blowing it right by guys who dare to stand in the box. Then there’s the changeup we talked about. He’s averaging a “slight” 29.7% whiff rate and 32.1 inches of drop. Try hitting that after seeing close to triple digits for a whole at bat. Even the most accomplished hitters in baseball have marveled at the changeups he tosses up there. That same pitch is offering a 21.6% strikeout rate this year.
Proven, Able Bodied Ace
Despite a few minor injuries in his career, Luis Castillo has been quite healthy for the Reds. Excluding the COVID shortened 2020 season, Castillo has started 30+ games in each full year of his young career. Once he learned the ropes, he quickly rose up the ranks in not only the organization. He’s also risen in the league around him. Keeping him around would not only ensure the Reds have an ace to lean on, but it would also give him a great comfort to know he can continue pitching for the team that signed him. They didn’t give him the nickname “La Piedra” for no reason. He really is the rock of this rotation for the Reds.
Castillo will command a good amount of money, but it should be something Reds are willing to pay. He is making $7.35 Million through his second to last arbitration eligible season. He is only 29-years old, and an extension to keep him through his prime would be perfect for not only the Reds, but Castillo as well. Looking at what the Reds have paid in the past for premium starters, they should take note of the Johnny Cueto debacle. Instead of offering to extend Cueto, who had been one of the best pitchers in baseball for years, they extended Homer Bailey with a 5-year, $106 million contract. The Reds should not let let history repeat itself, and offer a contract of that type to Luis Castillo. It would give him a considerable pay bump, and allow the Reds to hang onto a bonafide ace and fan favorite.
As the August 2nd trade deadline approaches, we can only hope the Reds hang onto Luis Castillo. If they don’t, that likely means they received a haul for him, or one can hope they did. The only thing we can do is sit back, relax and enjoy the time we have left with our ace, Luis Castillo.
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