Cincinnati Reds: Castillo delivers mixed results in first two starts

Pitcher hopes to learn from mistakes as he returns to the mound Thursday

Few pitchers in baseball have performed better in the opening weeks of the season than Cincinnati Reds starter Sonny Gray, and maybe no one has benefitted more from the knowledge Gray has gained in his starts than Luis Castillo.

Castillo pitched the day after Gray in his first two starts and got scouting reports on the opponents.

“He’s been very helpful with me,” Castillo said, “and given me a lot of tips on how to pitch better.”

Castillo will make his third start of the season on Thursday on road against the Cleveland Indians in the final game of a four-game series. He delivered mixed results in his first two starts, dominating the Detroit Tigers on July 25 (one earned run and 11 strikeouts in six innings) and struggling in his second start against the Chicago Cubs (five earned runs on eight hits in six innings).

The Reds lost both games: 6-4 and 7-2. Castillo said his struggles against the Cubs had to do with the type of pitches he was throwing and the locations he was hitting.

“I was able to see where my pitches were landing and definitely learned from that,” Castillo said.

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Roster moves: The Reds assigned catcher Francisco Peña and reliever José De León to the taxi squad on Wednesday. Catcher Tyler Stephenson was on the taxi squad for the first road trip of the season to Detroit.

Every team can have as many as three players on the taxi squad for road trips. That gives them the option of quickly replacing an injured player or a player who tests positive for COVID-19.

Rare company: Nick Castellanos homered in the first inning Tuesday. It was his sixth home run of the season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he’s the fourth Red to hit at least six home runs in the first 11 games. The others were: Wally Post (seven home runs in 1956); Austin Kearns (six in 2003); and Adam Dunn (seven in 2004 and six in 2006).

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Slump status: Eugeno Suarez hit his first home run of the season Tuesday. He hit 49 last season.

Suarez went 1-for-4, raising his average over .100 for the first time this season. He’s 4-for-39 (.103) with three RBIs.

“We’ve seen him get off to slow starts,” Reds manager David Bell said. “Over the last two or three games, his swing has gotten better. I think at this point, it’s just a matter of getting that confidence back.”

Looking ahead: The Reds start a three-game series on the road against the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday. The Brewers (3-5) had three games postponed last weekend because of positive COVID-19 tests by the St. Louis Cardinals.

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