Gutierrez's GABP debut an emphatic success

Castellanos' pep talk spurs rookie righty to 7-strikeout outing

June 10th, 2021

CINCINNATI -- Early in his third big league start for the Reds, Vladimir Gutierrez was mad at himself. Gutierrez's very first pitch of the night hit Luis Urías and he scored the game's first run from third base with two outs on a balk.

A pep talk -- in Spanish -- from right fielder Nick Castellanos proved pivotal.

"Once I got back to the dugout after the top of the first, I threw my glove to the dugout and I was frustrated with the balk that I did there," Gutierrez explained via translator Jorge Merlos. "Castellanos stopped me and said, 'Hey, look, man. I want you to throw the best you can. I want you to throw the best that you have today and I want you to go seven innings.' I said, 'All right, all right, Nick.' Casty said, 'No, no, no, no, no. I want you to tell me that you're going to throw seven innings today. I want you to tell me.' I said, 'Yeah, I'm going to throw seven innings today.'" 

Gutierrez delivered a career-high seven innings and 102 pitches, as directed, while the Reds earned a 7-3 win over the Brewers.

"I was really happy that he gave me the confidence to get me through this game today," said Gutierrez, who allowed two earned runs and six hits with three walks and seven strikeouts. 

A hustle infield single in the first by Jesse Winker on a chopper to pitcher Brett Anderson opened the door for the Reds to take a 2-1 lead. After Castellanos squibbed a ball to Anderson, he reached on the lefty's throwing error. Tyler Stephenson hit an RBI double and Joey Votto picked up an RBI groundout.

"You can cause pressure and cause a guy to hesitate because he sees you busting it down the line," Stephenson said. "It’s hustle. It doesn’t take a lot to do it."

Following Gutierrez's first big league hit -- a second-inning single to the shortstop -- Jonathan India delivered a one-out RBI single to left field. Castellanos added a two-out, two-run double. In the fourth, Stephenson lined his own two-run double to left to make it a 7-1 game.

Gutierrez led with his four-seam fastball, throwing it 45 times while mixing in his curveball and slider with a touch of changeups. Overall, he picked up 49 swings and 13 whiffs, according to Statcast. 

"He has a great way about him, on and off the field," Reds manager David Bell said. "In the clubhouse, he has a great personality. I think that translates on the mound. His presence is he competes, but he also enjoys it. He’s in the moment. He’s not really fazed by what comes at him. We’ve seen him pitch into some situations and be able to pitch out of it. It just says a lot about a young pitcher."

Gutierrez did encounter trouble and his catcher, Stephenson, helped him through. Following a Urías leadoff double in the fifth inning, the runner went to third base on a wild pitch to Christian Yelich. After Yelich walked, Stephenson made a mound visit before Avisaíl García batted while third baseman Eugenio Suárez translated.

García hit a sacrifice fly, but Gutierrez escaped on Omar Narváez's grounder back to the pitcher.

"We definitely were on the same page," Gutierrez said of Stephenson. "That inning that he came out and pumped me up afterwards, he said, 'All right, let's go. You can come back, you can be better. So let's go.' After he came back and visited me on the mound, that's where I regained my confidence. I said, 'OK, let's go, I'll be back and I can be myself again.' That really helped me out today."

With five of his last six batters retired, Gutierrez had 88 pitches through six innings. Bell sent him out to hit in the bottom of the sixth, letting him know he was going back out for the seventh inning.

"I would say he made it relatively easy just the way he finished the [sixth]," Bell said. "I think everything he does tends to be pretty smooth. Not that it doesn’t take a lot of energy, but he has a way about him that can get him deep into games. I think just his motion and delivery, obviously had to work hard, but he seemed like he had more in the tank."

Gutierrez had pitched five innings in both of his first two starts for Cincinnati. He liked the opportunity to keep going.

"I'm like, 'OK, great.' I'm going to prepare myself physiologically that I'm going to be pitching in the seventh," Gutierrez said. "It meant something for me to go back out there in the seventh."

With two outs in the seventh, Yelich walked again and Stephenson returned to the mound -- this time not needing a translator.

"I knew Amir [Garrett] was in the bullpen, so I knew it was kind of his last guy," Stephenson said. "Pretty much told him, ‘Hey, let’s get this guy. Stay aggressive, let’s execute our pitches,’ and we got out of it."

When García grounded out on a fielder's choice to end the inning, the crowd at Great American Ball Park gave Gutierrez a standing ovation.

"Obviously, he did great and got his first career knock, so it was a great day for him," Stephenson said. "I’m happy for him.”