Castillo is 4-0 with a 1.26 ERA, nine walks and 33 strikeouts over his last four starts after he went 0-5 with a 4.10 ERA -- and the Reds went 1-6 -- in his first seven outings.
With Curt Casali behind the plate for Castillo in six of his 11 starts -- including the last four -- Castillo has a 1.33 ERA. It’s clear that they are working harmoniously.
“At the start, I was doing a couple of shakeoffs but now, these last couple of starts, I haven’t had to shake him off, and that’s amazing for me,” Castillo said via translator Jorge Merlos.
Castillo has lasted six innings or longer in each of his last four starts, including the first complete game of his career -- a 3-1 victory over the Cardinals on Sept. 11.
“He is really fun to catch. Me and him, we’re great friends obviously,” Casali said. “I feel like every time I’m up here, I’m talking about Luis, but I’m very happy to do that, because he’s an awesome person, he’s an awesome pitcher, and he’s an awesome teammate. I think we’re on a little bit of a roll right here.
“When he doesn’t have to think about what he’s throwing, he can just throw it. He can throw it to the best to his ability, and he’s liking going into games deeper.”
Saturday will be Castillo’s second time pitching at Target Field in Minneapolis. On April 27, 2018, he faced just 11 batters in one-plus innings, giving up five earned runs on six hits. He picked up a no-decision after Cincinnati battled back for a 15-9 victory.
“My first start here wasn’t the best,” Castillo said. “I got a no-decision out of it, but I didn’t have my best stuff. Coming in this time, it doesn’t intimidate me, really. I’m just going out -- God willing -- and be able to put my best stuff out there and come out with a victory.”
Mini Bell reunion
The series was also an opportunity for Reds manager David Bell to work opposite his younger brother, Minnesota bench coach Mike Bell.
“I just was with him out on the field. It was great to see him,” David Bell said. “He has a lot longer hair and grew a beard since the last time I saw him, but other than that, he’s the same guy. We talk all the time. We have a great relationship, [though] we don’t get to see each other very often this time of year. It was really nice to spend some time with him. It’ll be a little weird competing being across the way.”
The Bells are part of the third generation of Major Leaguers in their family. Their grandfather, Gus, was a Reds great outfielder and their father, Buddy, was a former third baseman with Cincinnati who also managed the Tigers, Rockies and Royals. He is currently a vice president and senior advisor in the Reds’ front office.
As a player, David Bell competed against teams managed by his father. The only time he played against Mike was during Spring Training.
“I know I haven’t really mentioned this to David, but I’d have preferred if it had been the first series of the year and not the last series when it’s really important games for both clubs,” Mike Bell said. “We’ll enjoy it. Getting to be on the same Major League field as my brother, not a lot of people can say they’ve done that before. I know I’ll cherish it.”
The Reds released reliever Nate Jones on Friday after he was designated for assignment. The club had contemplated adding him to the postseason taxi squad if he cleared waivers but decided not to go that route.