CINCINNATI -- In the Reds' search for arms to man the 2018 rotation, Luis Castillo has emerged from a seemingly endless group of prospects.
Although Castillo has pretty much locked up a spot, there are times when he looks like a 24-year-old rookie pitching above Double-A for the first time. Saturday's 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals was one of those times.
Castillo struggled with his control. He ended up going 6 1/3 innings and allowed four runs (three earned) on three hits. He walked five and hit two batters.
But it was a 2-1 game when Castillo left, giving his teammates a chance to win.
"That's the important part of it," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "The optimism has to be there with the position players when the starting pitcher is on the mound. You know, 'This guy has a chance to give us a good ballgame and keep the game moving.' With Luis, there's no doubt that the guys feel that way.
"Even when he's erratic like he was today, he'll give us enough outs to have a chance to win."
Castillo did that Saturday when he was less than his best.
"I didn't have my best stuff," he said through an interpreter. "Days like that is when you have to go and compete and stay longer in the game."
Control has occasionally been a problem. He walked five in his big league debut on June 23. Four starts ago, he walked four. But he's been stingy with walks for the most part.
Castillo relied heavily on his change-up because his fastball and slider were off.
"You're talking about a young guy who really looks like a big league pitcher," Price said. "But he's vulnerable to some of the things that other young pitchers are vulnerable to."
The lack of control was apparent from the start Saturday. He hit the first batter he faced and walked the second. He walked the leadoff man in the second inning as well, but he was able to escape.
Until the third. He walked Matt Carpenter to start the inning. After a fielder's choice, Paul DeJong jumped on a 97-mph fastball on the outer half and drove it out to left for his 15th home run.
"I made a mistake," he said. "I left two-seamer over the plate. He hit it pretty good."
That made it 2-1. Castillo kept it there until the seventh. With one out, he hit Kolten Wong with a 97-mph fastball that sent Wong's helmet flying. The Cardnials' second baseman stayed in the game. After pinch-hitter Luke Voit singled, Castillo was done.
Reliever Kevin Shackelford came in and allowed both inherited runners to score.
St. Louis manager Mike Matheny was impressed with Castillo.
"He has good stuff, no question," Matheny said. "A live arm. It looked like when he has his slider working, he's going to be good. But we made him try to control the counts, and he got behind, and we put a little pressure on him by getting guys on base."