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Luis Castillo: A project worth the investment

The Pickup

In 2016, the San Diego Padres placed Dan Strailey on waivers. When the Reds claimed him at the start of the season, they had no idea how he would play into the future of the club. Strailey spent one season in Cincinnati. He played for a team with no hope of making the postseason. He produced decent numbers, including a 3.76 earned run average, but it was clear he would not be a part of the next Reds’ playoff team.

Strailey was great in a Reds’ uniform, but they found a team that was willing to give up a potential ace for a quality innings eater. The plan backfired for Miami, as their team is in shambles with no sense of direction, meanwhile, the Reds picked up a piece that can play a huge role in the Reds’ future.

The Trade

On January 19, 2017, the Reds sent Strailey to the Marlins in exchange for not just a top prospect in Luis Castillo, but they were able to net Austin Brice and Isiah White in the process. While the two latter prospects will more than likely not play a role in the Reds’ future, the fact that they could add on two players to a trade that was already an asinine deal for the folks of Miami is mind-blowing.

Since coming to Cincinnati, Castillo has been on a rollercoaster. He’s shown signs of a future ace, while also showing signs of a pitcher who does not belong in the majors. Saturday night facing the division rival St. Louis Cardinals, Castillo reached a new level.

Ups and Downs

April, June and August were forgettable months, while May and July were phenomenal. If his back and forth trend continues, September will be yet another outstanding month. His first start of September seems to be leaning towards the fantastic side.

(Photo Courtesy: Dayton Daily News)

Castillo took the hill to try and slow a scorching hot Cardinals club. He did just that in his 6 2/3 innings, earning his eighth win in his 2018 campaign. In a season full of twists and turns, Castillo’s month by month production has made it hard to comprehend the pitcher he truly is.

Ace Potential

In his 27th start of the season, Castillo faced the Cardinals for the fifth time in 2018. His first two starts against St. Louis were starts Castillo would like to forget. His third start showed signs of improvement, as he went five innings allowing just two runs. In his very next start, Castillo appeared to finally figure out his division foe. Castillo allowed just four hits paired with one walk for one run on July 23. He would not face the Cardinals again until Saturday’s stellar outing.

In hopes to tie the series at one game apiece, Castillo made one of, if not, the best starts of his career. Castillo made easy work of the St. Louis lineup, retiring 20 of the 24 Cardinals hitters that stepped up to the plate. In addition to allowing just two hits and two walks, Castillo sent 11 hitters back to the dugout via strikeout.

It was Castillo’s first time tossing shutout baseball since his July 29 start where he threw one more out against the Philadelphia Phillies. In his start against the Phillies, he allowed the same amount of baserunners, but all four came from hits.

Castillo has shown that the Strailey trade made be one of the biggest steals in baseball in recent years. The only trade that may be more lopsided also belongs to the Reds organization, when they stole Eugenio Suarez for the Alfredo Simon.

Why They Believe in Castillo

The reds show no signs of giving up on Castillo, rightfully so. Castillo has made a mere 42 starts in his major league career. In 15 starts in 2017, he produced a 3.12 earned run average. While he has taken a step back in 2018, a sophomore slump is nothing new to major leaguers. At the ripe age of 25, Castillo has plenty of time to improve, and players often do just that when they have more experience at the major league level.

(Photo Courtesy: Blog Red Machine)

While people doubt Castillo being able to develop into a future ace, it should be noted that late developers are nothing new in a sport like baseball. Cy Young winners such as Max Scherzer and Jake Arrieta did not blossom into the aces they are today until their mid to late twenties. It is hard to be patient when the Reds have not had successful pitchers in Cincinnati outside of Johnny Cueto, who was traded for prospects that have not found their stride, and two years of Mat Latos, who is not even in the majors anymore.

Keep Investing

Castillo is a different product. The Reds have control of Castillo until 2023, and there is no reason to believe he will not be a key factor when the Reds are ready to compete again. If Castillo does not develop into the pitcher the city hopes he will be, they lost just Strailey in the process. The Reds front office has caught heat in the recent seasons during the much too long rebuild, but dealing for Castillo, a pitcher with ace potential was nothing short of a steal. Only time will tell if the trade pays dividends, but he has shown flashes of greatness and we can only hope that the Castillo we see in those games is the real deal.

Cincinnati may very well have their ace, all we can do is sit back and hope for the best.

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