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Castillo flashes potential in grinding start

MLB.com

ATLANTA -- Luis Castillo continued to strengthen his case to become a potential frontline starter for the Reds. He didn't have the best command of his pitches, but he battled to limit the Braves to a pair of runs in the Reds 8-1 loss on Sunday at SunTrust Park.

Castillo was clean during his first trip through the Braves' lineup. However, he quickly accelerated his pitch count as the Braves fouled off some quality pitches. He also ran into some trouble in the third inning as he allowed two runs on a double by Braves outfielder Nick Markakis that split the gap in right field.

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ATLANTA -- Luis Castillo continued to strengthen his case to become a potential frontline starter for the Reds. He didn't have the best command of his pitches, but he battled to limit the Braves to a pair of runs in the Reds 8-1 loss on Sunday at SunTrust Park.

Castillo was clean during his first trip through the Braves' lineup. However, he quickly accelerated his pitch count as the Braves fouled off some quality pitches. He also ran into some trouble in the third inning as he allowed two runs on a double by Braves outfielder Nick Markakis that split the gap in right field.

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"I didn't have my best stuff today, but I went out there and competed," Castillo said through an interpreter. "I made my mistakes and I paid for it."

Although he took the loss in his shortest start of the season, Castillo made sure to keep the Reds in the game. He limited the Braves to four hits and racked up eight strikeouts, five of which came in the first eight batters of the game.

"I went out there and did the best I could to go deeper in the game," Castillo said. "After that mistake, I think I pitched really well."

According to Statcast™, Castillo balanced his two-seam fastball, which topped out at 97 mph, with a strong changeup inside to right-handed hitters. He had five swinging strikes with the changeup, and it helped him secure a couple of inning-ending strikeouts.

"We were ready to get that Castillo guy out of there," Braves catcher Tyler Flowers said. "That guy is pretty good. He's got some pretty good stuff."

Reds manager Bryan Price thought the combination was good from his young pitcher. He admitted that he didn't want to run up his pitch count, but was happy to see Castillo's continued growth in his 12th start.

"That is a pretty big workload for pitches per inning," Price said. "He up around 90 pitches through four innings. This team in Atlanta did about as good a job as any team he faced, fighting off pitches and battling to keep the at-bats alive."

Castillo is 2-6 with a 3.45 ERA this season. He has allowed two or fewer runs in six of his 12 starts. With his pitching mix, Price believes that he can eventually anchor the pitching staff long-term.

"It is hard to come up here, get established and have numbers that resemble competitive numbers," Price said. "As the league finds out, he could be the guy in the rotation that people don't want to see. You hope that you miss him and that is a lot to say for a guy that is young and inexperienced as he is."

As Castillo finishes this season, he will continue to garner recognition from around the league. However, his teammates already know the potential that he can have for the starting rotation. They hope he can keep it going.

"He is really poised for a young pitcher and keeps his emotions in check," Reds second baseman Scooter Gennett said. "He has great stuff and once he continuously gets better, he is going to be really good. For a guy in his first year in the big leagues, he has done a great job and his future is very bright."

Jaylon Thompson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Atlanta and covered the Reds on Sunday.

Cincinnati Reds, Luis Castillo