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Facing ex-club, Castillo validates Reds' faith

Rookie fires career-high 8 innings, facing the man he was acquired for in Straily
MLB.com @m_sheldon

MIAMI -- On Jan. 19, in a trade that irritated many Reds fans, the club took advantage of pitcher Dan Straily's peak market value and traded him to the Marlins for three young players, including starting pitcher prospect Luis Castillo.

Games like Sunday's 6-4 victory at Marlins Park are ones that reduce any fleeting remorse about giving up Straily. While he pitched well against the Reds, Castillo was better. The 24-year-old made his acquisition look pretty good for Cincinnati with a career-high eight innings.

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MIAMI -- On Jan. 19, in a trade that irritated many Reds fans, the club took advantage of pitcher Dan Straily's peak market value and traded him to the Marlins for three young players, including starting pitcher prospect Luis Castillo.

Games like Sunday's 6-4 victory at Marlins Park are ones that reduce any fleeting remorse about giving up Straily. While he pitched well against the Reds, Castillo was better. The 24-year-old made his acquisition look pretty good for Cincinnati with a career-high eight innings.

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"Obviously, I got to really know Dan and catch him a ton last year. I can't say enough good things about him," Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart said. "But the guy we ended up getting is pretty good, too. Luis is a guy we can really build around moving forward. He's got ace stuff, that's for sure."

Video: CIN@MIA: Price on Castillo's eight-inning outing

In his one season in Cincinnati, Straily tallied 14 wins and a 3.76 ERA after being a waiver claim just before Opening Day while also being popular in the clubhouse. Castillo was afforded a chance on Sunday to not only face the organization that dealt him, but to also face the very guy he was traded for.

"It's amazing. You face your ex-team. You face the pitcher you were traded for," Castillo said via interpreter Julio Morillo. "And we even wear the same number on the back of the jersey. It was a good experience. Thank God today everything worked out well for me today."

Castillo, who was summoned from Double-A Pensacola on June 23, saw many familiar faces in the opposing dugout.

"I know almost every one of them. I know them very well," said Castillo, now 2-4 with a 3.56 ERA.

Video: CIN@MIA: Castillo drives in Peraza on safety squeeze

The first Reds starter to complete eight innings since Tim Adleman on May 26, and just the fourth this season, Castillo gave up one run on three hits with one walk and six strikeouts in his eighth big league start. He threw 106 pitches, with a four-seam fastball that averaged 97.8 mph and peaked at 99.1 mph, according to Statcast™.

But Castillo also broke out a two-seam fastball with sinking action that averaged 97 mph. A pitch developed with the aid of pitching coach Mack Jenkins, he used it in the big leagues for the first time in his previous start on Tuesday against the Yankees.

"To come out today and throw it to his glove side, mechanically you have to be so on-point to get it over there and make it move like he was doing. It was special," Barnhart said. "He threw [Miguel] Rojas one there in the eighth inning … a back-door sinker at 98 that started off the plate away, like over the white line in the left-handed batter's box, and came back over the middle of the plate for a strikeout. To be able to command that and to be able to throw 98 in the eighth inning, that's really special."

The two-seamer comes on the heels of a slider he started developing in Double-A. Put it all together and Marlins batters were unable to get the ball out of the infield much. Through five innings, there had been just three balls hit into the outfield -- two were caught.

Castillo, who was acquired along with reliever Austin Brice and outfielder Isaiah White, retired his final seven batters and was still reaching the upper 90s.

"To get an injection of really good quality pitching from Luis is a boost," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "Throwing the ball over the plate, working quick and being efficient and effective, Luis certainly, I'm sure, has given our position players reason to be excited every time he takes the mound."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Cincinnati Reds, Luis Castillo