Castillo gets call on Opening Day for Reds

March 20th, 2019

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- In a somewhat surprising turn Tuesday, Reds manager David Bell named as the club’s Opening Day starter. Castillo will start the March 28 game vs. the Pirates at Great American Ball Park.

Bell told Castillo and the other pitchers the news about an hour before Tuesday’s game vs. the White Sox.

“It’s a big day, an important day. It is one game but at the same time, it’s a very important day,” Bell said. “He should be happy with it. He should be proud of it and he should feel great having that honor to pitch Opening Day. And he did. He was all smiles. It was a lot of fun delivering that message to him. He’s going to be ready.”

Castillo was chosen over two offseason acquisitions, Sonny Gray and Tanner Roark, both with veteran experience. Returning pitcher Anthony DeSclafani has also been with the club longer. All three pitchers are having strong springs.

Bell also revealed the order of starters after Castillo: Gray, Roark and DeSclafani. The fifth spot is still to be determined. The third offseason rotation addition, Alex Wood, is expected to begin the season on the injured list because of a sore lower back.

“We trust all of our guys, but we couldn’t be happier having Luis Castillo pitching Opening Day,” Bell said. “We called the other guys in and had great conversations with them. They’re great team players and they get it. They’ll be looking forward to their day.”

It hasn’t been a superlative spring for Castillo, who has a 12.46 ERA in four Cactus League games. Over his 8 2/3 innings, he’s allowed 13 hits, five walks and two home runs with 10 strikeouts. Of course, spring stats are often taken with a grain of salt, especially for players already locked into roster spots.

Cincinnati is banking on Castillo picking up from his outstanding second half of 2018. The right-hander had a 2.44 ERA in 11 second-half starts, including a 1.09 ERA over his final five starts. Overall, he was 10-12 with a 4.30 ERA and 1.22 WHIP overall in 31 starts and 169 2/3 innings. Castillo also gave up a team-high 28 home runs, which was third-most in the National League.

“He’s had a lot of success leading up until now,” Bell said. “We like the progress he’s made through Spring Training. We think he’s in a good place to start Opening Day. We trust any of those four guys. It’s just kind of the way it fell.”