Luis Castillo showed plenty of promise in the last full major league season. The Cincinnati Reds righty won 15 games, was named to the All-Star Game and had an ERA of 3.40 in 2019.
In the shortened 2020 campaign, he lowered that ERA to 3.21 and went 4-6. He has not found that same success early this season. In seven starts his ERA is double from last year and he has allowed 24 earned runs, one less than all of 2020.
Coors Field isn’t a site for a pitcher to turn things around, but that’s what Castillo is hoping to do when Cincinnati opens a four-game series at the Colorado Rockies in Denver on Thursday night.
The Reds beat the host Pirates 5-1 in 10 innings on Wednesday for their fourth win in six games. The Rockies split a doubleheader with San Diego on Wednesday, dropping the first game 5-3 before winning the second 3-2.
Colorado ended a five-game skid but still struggled to score, putting across just seven runs in the past four games.
Castillo (1-4, 6.42 ERA) will go against Chi Chi Gonzalez (1-1, 5.97 ERA) in a matchup of right-handers.
Castillo has given up 45 hits in just 33 2/3 innings and struck out 26.
“What I’ve seen is about 70 percent of my pitches are staying in the zone,” said Castillo after his most recent start on Saturday in a 9-2 loss to Cleveland. “I’m definitely noticing that, and I’m definitely focusing on that, too. What I’m trying to do now is I’m trying to pitch lower so that way we can get more swings and misses and more ground balls.”
Castillo will need to get some swings and misses against the Rockies. Thursday will be his third career start against Colorado and second in Denver. In his previous two starts he is 0-2 with an 8.44 ERA, and he is 0-1 with a 6.35 ERA at Coors Field.
Gonzalez will make his sixth start and eighth appearance of the season Thursday. It will be his second career start against the Reds, with the first one coming July 27, 2019, at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati.
Gonzalez took the loss in that game despite having a solid outing. He went 5 2/3 innings and gave up all three runs in a 3-1 loss.
Like his counterpart in Thursday’s game, Gonzalez has struggled with command, especially at the start of innings, as he’s allowed 16 of 30 leadoff hitters reach base.
“I need a swing-and-miss pitch,” Gonzalez said after giving up seven runs in four innings in a 9-8 loss at St. Louis on Saturday. “That first batter of the game (Saturday) was nine pitches. He fouled off a bunch. They increased my pitch count and that catches up to you (later) in the game.”
–Field Level Media