Luis Castillo seeks improvement in home start vs. Pirates

MLB

Facing the Pittsburgh Pirates at home might be what Luis Castillo needs to rebound from his rough 2021 debut.

Looking to help the sizzling Cincinnati Reds record a fifth straight victory and series sweep, Castillo tries for a third consecutive winning home start over the Pirates, who have dropped four in a row, on Wednesday.

With reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer now with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Sonny Gray dealing with back spasms, Castillo got the Opening Day start against St. Louis on Thursday. Unfortunately for the right-hander, he couldn’t make the most of it and allowed six first-inning runs and 10 total — eight earned — while walking two and failing to record a strikeout over 3 1/3 innings of an 11-6 home loss.

The eight-earned runs allowed matched a career high, but Castillo seems to be only looking forward.

“I think we were trying to mix (all the pitches) at the same time,” Castillo told the Reds’ official website. “It didn’t work out (against St. Louis), our plan. There’s always the next day that we’ll try to get them.”

Castillo, however, should be eager to face the Pirates at home, where he is 3-1 with a 1.26 ERA in six career starts against them. One of his better 2020 outings came there against Pittsburgh on Sept. 16, when he yielded three hits and struck out 10 with a walk over seven innings of a 1-0 victory.

Since Castillo’s tough Opening Day effort, Cincinnati starters have pitched at least five innings and posted a 2.14 ERA during the club’s four-game winning streak. However, the Reds’ offense has beenthe story.

With Tuesday’s 14-1 rout of the Pirates, the Reds are batting .314 while totaling 46 runs, which are a club-record through five games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Cincinnati has also hit 10 home runs and posted a .956 OPS.

Former Cleveland Indian Tyler Naquin was the star Tuesday, homering twice and driving in seven runs. In five games, Naquin’s 5-for-14 with three homers and 12 RBIs. Meanwhile, rookie second baseman Jonathan India, who drove home four runs Tuesday, is 9-for-19 with seven RBIs in 2021.

Nick Castellanos (.474 batting average) had just one of Cincinnati’s 17 hits Tuesday, but is 4-for-13 (.308) with a triple and a home run against scheduled Pittsburgh starter Chad Kuhl, who is 2-2 with a 3.19 ERA in seven career starts against the Reds, with both defeats coming along with a 4.60 ERA in three outings at Cincinnati. The right-hander earned Pittsburgh’s Opening Day start, but was pulled after throwing 63 pitches and allowing two runs — one earned — along with a hit and three walks over three innings of a 5-3 win over the Chicago Cubs.

Pittsburgh, which has dropped seven straight at Cincinnati, totaled eight runs during the four-game slide that has followed its Opening-Day victory.

“We have a lot of really talented hitters, so you just keep going up there and putting up good at-bats,” infielder Colin Moran told the Pirates’ official website. “We’re going to score runs.”

Moran, 6-for-16 in the last four games, is 8-for-18 with a homer and five RBIs versus Castillo. Teammate Phillip Evans, meanwhile, is 5-for-12 on the season and homered in two straight games.

Reds veteran Joey Votto is 4-for-22 in 2021, but 7-for-14 with three doubles and a homer versus Kuhl.

–Field Level Media

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