Pitcher Luis Castillo will continue searching for his old form when the Cincinnati Reds visit the St. Louis Cardinals Friday.
Castillo (1-8, 7.22 ERA) lost all six of his starts in May while posting an 8.04 ERA.
But he showed promise while striking out 11 batters in a 4-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants on May 18. He also allowed just two earned runs in five-plus innings during a 10-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs May 29.
“On the one end, he didn’t pump 11 guys out against the Cubs,” Reds pitching coach Derek Johnson said. “But I also thought he threw the ball pretty well. He got into the sixth inning.”
Castillo, a rght-hander, won 15 games in 2019 and posted a 3.21 ERA in 12 starts last season. He has shown only glimpses of that form this season.
“Has he made some progress? I’m hoping he has,” Johnson said. “It seems like he has. Is it exactly what we expect from Luis and or think that it should be? Maybe not. But I do think there’s some progress under the hood there.”
Castillo has tried to remain positive despite his months-long struggle.
“Obviously the results haven’t been there and it hasn’t going our way yet, but we want to keep moving forward,” he said Thursday through an interpreter.
This season, Castillo already has lost twice to the Cardinals, 11-6 on April 1 and 5-2 on April 25. He allowed 14 runs (12 earned) on 14 hits and three walks in a combined 8 1/3 innings in those starts.
Dylan Carlson (3-for-4, homer, four RBIs), Nolan Arenado (4-for-9, two walks, RBI) and Tommy Edman (6-for-16, double) have hit well against him. Tyler O’Neill is just 2-for-16 against Castillo, but both hits were homers.
Cardinals left-hander Kwang Hyun Kim will try to continue his mastery of the Reds in the second game in this four-game series at Busch Stadium.
Kim is 3-0 with a 0.54 ERA in three career starts against the Reds. Sluggers Nick Castellanos, Eugenio Suarez and Jesse Winker have combined to go 4-for-20 against him.
On April 23, Kim (1-3, 3.65 ERA) earned a 5-4 victory over the Reds while allowing just one run on five hits in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out eight batters and issued no walks.
“It’s a testament, if you know him, working ahead, expanding the plate and also throwing his secondary pitches where he wanted,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said after that game. “He had a good plan, but a plan is only as good as execution.”
But Kim is coming off of his worst start of the season. He allowed four runs on nine hits in five innings in a 9-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday.
The Cardinals are reeling from the loss of staff ace Jack Flaherty with what Shildt called a “significant” left oblique strain. Thursday night, they fell to the Reds 4-2 for their fourth loss in five games.
“Losing somebody like Jack Flaherty, it’s a gut punch,” Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said Thursday. “We feel pretty good about where we were going. But the [injured list] continues to grow and that’s part of the frustration of this year.”
–Field Level Media