Castillo wraps season on 10-K note

With innings limit reached, starter's 'tremendous confidence' bodes well for 2018

Castillo wraps season on 10-K note

CINCINNATI -- Young starting pitcher Luis Castillo finished his first big league season for the Reds in the same manner in which he debuted on June 23 -- impressively.

Castillo completed eight innings on Wednesday at Great American Ball Park, and he encountered little resistance from the Brewers in a 7-1 Reds victory that completed a three-game series sweep. The 24-year-old right-hander gave up one earned run and four hits with a career-high 10 strikeouts.

"I had a really good feel for my pitches today," Castillo said via translator Julio Morillo. "I think the command was a big part of the success. After that, I just went and competed."

The last Cincinnati pitcher with a 10-plus strikeout game with no walks was Johnny Cueto on June 11, 2014, vs. the Dodgers.

Castillo's most challenging inning was the top of the first, as second batter Neil Walker hit a 98-mph, 1-0 fastball to right field for a home run. Travis Shaw added a two-out double, but Castillo wound up striking out the side. He retired the next 11 in a row and 20 of 21.

Essentially a two-pitch pitcher entering Spring Training, Castillo now appears to have command of four pitches: a four-seam fastball, a slider he added at Double-A Pensacola, a changeup and a two-seam fastball he only started throwing in late July. He used all of them among his 111 pitches vs. Milwaukee.

Price on win over Brewers

Castillo had 94 pitches through the seventh -- which included using a 98-mph fastball to get Domingo Santana looking for the second out. Although he allowed a one-out single in the eighth, Castillo was able to match his career high of eight innings, previously set on July 30 at Miami.

Castillo has a 3-7 record and 3.12 ERA in 15 big league starts with 32 walks and 98 strikeouts. He's being shut down for the year because he's reached an innings limit.

"I feel really, really, really happy that I had a great year," Castillo said. "I'm going to go back to the Dominican [Republic] and take this offseason and work hard to be really good next year."

Combined with his time at Pensacola, Castillo worked 169 2/3 innings. That's up from the 131 2/3 innings pitched during 2016 at the Class A Advanced and Double-A levels in the Marlins organization.

"How many guys come up from Double-A and have the kind of impact he's had on our team?" Reds manager Bryan Price said. "Now he's won three games, right? But he's kept us in almost every game that he's started. There's a lot to be said for that."

Castillo, who never allowed more than four runs in a big league outing and posted eight quality starts, was acquired from Miami in January, along with Austin Brice, for veteran starter Dan Straily.

Heading into 2018, Castillo is already expected to be locked into the Reds' rotation. He could form a nice top of the staff with Robert Stephenson -- who has a 2.08 ERA over his past six games -- and potentially Sal Romano, who has also pitched well of late. In the Reds' past 13 games, the rotation has a 2.64 ERA, and several other young arms will be vying for spots.

"We knew what we were getting as far as the stuff when we traded for him," Price said of Castillo. "We did not have enough of an understanding -- and you can't until you get him in your own system -- of what kind of makeup kid he is. He's a tough kid. He's a hard worker. He's competitive. He's comfortable in competition. He's got tremendous confidence. … He's the real deal."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.