The complete game shutout from Noah Syndergaard that the Cincinnati Reds just witnessed this afternoon was a thing of beauty. It’s rather majestic watching a starting pitcher who can dial up fastballs to 99 mph look completely in-sync with his calls, painting corners and making opposition lineups look completely stupified from the first pitch.
Perhaps that might get Thor on the inside-track to, I dunno, winning the NL Pitcher of the Month Award...for May.
As for March/April, well, the Reds can now lay claim to that title, as their own version of Thor - a 99 mph fireballer who can pull the string with the best change-up in the game - just had one of the better months in team pitching history, and has been rewarded for it. Luis Castillo, fresh off his 7 starts of 1.45 ERA ball, is officially your NL Pitcher of the Month for all games played in 2019 prior to May.
In 43.1 IP to date, Castillo has fanned 50 and allowed only 26 hits, his 10.4 K/9 currently at a career-best rate. His 2.2 bWAR currently leads all MLB pitchers, as does that ERA among all qualified starters. In terms of strikeouts, only Max Scherzer has more among National League pitchers, which only goes to reinforce just how incredibly good Scherzer has been for years in his own right.
It was apparent when the Reds chose to give Castillo their Opening Day start that they had supreme confidence in the 3rd place finisher in 2017’s NL Rookie of the Year Award voting, especially given the influx of talent the club brought in to help the pitching staff around him. So far, he’s rewarded their confidence with the best run of non-Johnny Cueto pitching we’ve seen around these parts in decades, especially when you consider he finished the 2018 season with a 2.63 ERA over his final 14 starts.
Roll those two samples together, and it’s evident that Castillo had quietly emerged as a legitimate ace in this league, and I only use the past tense here because this award should render the ‘quiet’ portion effectively moot going forward. He’s here, he’s an ace, and the present and future of the Reds will largely ride on his dominant shoulders.
Congrats, Luis, and here’s to six more months of 2019 dominance, too.