After wrapping his 2018 season with a 2.63 ERA over his final 14 starts (82 IP), we all probably should’ve been a bit higher on Luis Castillo entering the 2019 season than we were. We were hopeful, of course, that he’d continue to develop as a legitimate cog in the Cincinnati Reds rotation, but the combination of his rough start to the 2018 season and the Reds recent history of having talented pitching prospects completely crash and burn probably tempered even our wildest dreams for Castillo, even with him possessing one of the more devastating change-ups we’ve seen in recent memory.
Obviously, the Reds endorsed his chances to be great by giving him this year’s Opening Day nod despite the influx of veteran pitching talent, and Castillo hasn’t looked back since. With a 1.76 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and a career-best 11.2 K/9 through his first 9 starts, he has looked the part not just of a staff ace, but like a legitimate top-tier force, something that has been reflected by the latest Cy Young Award poll from MLB.com.
By reflected, I mean this: he’s it. He’s the one. According to MLB.com’s Richard Justice, the results from their first poll has Castillo as the frontrunner for the NL Cy Young Award, narrowly ahead of San Diego phenom Chris Paddack and veteran Dodgers lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu.
Granted, I don’t really know what the hell that means. Is the poll voted on by MLB.com writers? Is it an internet poll, the validity of which is about as structurally sound as an ice cream cone in 98 degree heat? Who knows, really...but what I do know is that it’s some very public dap for a Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher, and that’s something that we haven’t had a chance to read in so damn long it makes my back hurt, and for that I will give it significantly more words than it’s probably worth.
In other news, Jose Siri has been completely torching things at AA, as ARF detailed in this morning’s Farmers Only. After going 1 for 8 in the first two games of the season for Chattanooga, Siri has erupted to go .306/.368/.446 in 34 games since then, including a scorching .383/.424/.517 over his last 16 games. Considering he spent the last half of 2018 in AA (then Pensacola), will turn 24 years old in July, and is already burning his second option since he’s been on the 40-man roster prior to the start of the last two seasons, you’d think he’d be in-line for a promotion to AAA in the near future, especially given the presence in AA of talented OFs Taylor Trammell, TJ Friedl, and Michael Beltre. Of course, the Louisville roster has some OFs in need of playing time, too, with the likes of Phil Ervin and Scott Schebler around, but despite the presence of numerous other OF options on the Bats roster - Aristides Aquino, Rob Refsnyder, Nick Longhi, Narciso Crook - there’s not a one of them that should be blocking Siri when the Reds get around to doling out his promotion.
On the injury front, there is...well, there isn’t really anything. We heard last week that Alex Wood’s setback had a setback, and as setbacks go, it was pretty setback-y. He’s now shut down for at least another week, meaning it’ll be June at the earliest before there’s a chance to see him pitch. As for Scooter Gennett and Alex Blandino, there’s nary a peep about their progress to date. My best guess is that they all will somehow manage to get healthy at precisely the time this team starts making moves for the run-up to the trade deadline. That’s now an entire paragraph in a Reposter with not a single link, so here’s a cat gif as restitution.
Speaking of potential moves at the trade deadline, how the Reds choose to navigate that given the prevalence of pending free agents on the roster remains a mystery, largely due to the multitude of directions they could feasibly take. One particular piece that’s become a surprisingly intriguing one is shortstop Jose Iglesias, who was brought in on a minor league deal and has completely dazzled in his time as a Red. Our friends at Redleg Nation took a closer look at Iglesias’ fine start to the 2019 season, and it’s worth a read. I do wonder how the fact that not a single MLB team wanted him on a big league contract all of two months ago will impact his value at the trade deadline, and if that’s something that could lead the Reds to choose to try to keep him around beyond this year.
Over at FanGraphs, Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel run through their latest mock draft as the 2019 MLB Draft sits just a few weeks away. It’s much more thorough than just a list of their highest ranked players, as it takes into account the rumblings they’ve heard about which teams are connected to which top prospects, as well as the draft strategies those teams typically employ. Their choice for the Reds at #7 here is TCU’s Nick Lodolo, a LHP, though they do mention that “the Reds are believed to be looking for a college player, ideally a bat,” with Cal 1B Andrew Vaughn a name they mention as a possible link if he’s still available. Whether it’s due to the Reds’ most recent experience with a lefty pitcher from TCU that has the idea of Lodolo at #7 a tad underwhelming or the Reds’ swings and misses with 1st round pitchers of late I can’t quite pinpoint at the moment, but I do know the nickname options for Lodolo in future Farmers Onlys are pretty ripe.
Finally, if the Reds ever decide they want to rename GABP, The Ballpark is the Great American Public Space is actually a freaking brilliant option.