2018 Projection: Can The Reds’ Luis Castillo Emerge As A Top 40 Starting Pitcher?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Luis Castillo was often an overlooked prospect, though it was still a surprise that the Marlins included him in the trade that netted them Dan Straily prior to the 2017 season.  Despite never stepping on a Triple-A mound, the Reds ultimately promoted Castillo to the Majors where he emerged as one of the bright spots and entrenched himself in the team’s rotation moving forward:

89.1 IP
3 Wins
3.12 ERA
1.07 WHIP
98 Strikeouts (9.87 K/9)
32 Walks (3.22 BB/9)
58.8% Groundball Rate
.247 BABIP

The doubters are going to point towards luck as a reason for his success, both with his BABIP and strand rate (80.1%).  That is a fair point and something we will have to watch closely, though it also was not the sole reason for his success.  He showed all three skills we look for, and there’s reason to believe going forward.

The “worst” of his skills was the walk rate, though he consistently showed more coming up through the minors.  Included in that mark was a 1.46 BB/9 over 80.1 IP at Double-A prior to his recall in ’17.  Considering his 1.38 BB/9 in 117.2 IP at High-A in ’16, as well as a 2.98 BB/9 after the All-Star Break (66.1 IP), it’s obvious that this should be a strength.

You can also question the groundball rate, considering his 1.88 GO/AO in the Majors compared to a 1.15 mark over his minor league career.  Obviously the minor league mark isn’t a bad number, though it’s not elite, but it is more than enough given the other skills.

His biggest asset is obviously his strikeout rate, as he showed swing and miss stuff with a trio of pitches (Whiff%):

  • Changeup – 23.62%
  • Slider – 15.96%
  • Fourseam Fastball – 10.22%

With a fourseam fastball that averaged 97.88 mph and a changeup that came in 10 mph slower (87.77 mph), it makes a lot of sense.  There’s no reason to think that he can’t continue striking out at least a batter per inning, and that is going to mean success.

Is he quite as good as he looked in 2017?  Probably not, but there’s little reason to think that he can’t be a viable option with our projection looking as follows:

180.0 IP, 12 W, 3.70 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 185 K (9.25 K/9), 58 BB (2.90 BB/9)

A regression in his luck metrics, as well as giving up a few more home runs, is going to lead to an overall drop in his numbers.  That said, as a backend option there is an awful lot to like.  While he isn’t going to be a fantasy ace, and shouldn’t be valued as such, he’s going to contribute and is well worth targeting come draft day (or as a potential keeper depending on your league rules/format).

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, MILB.com

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Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Projections:

Player
Date Published
Cano, Robinson10/09/17
Castillo, Luis10/03/17
Gerrit Cole10/30/17
Didi Gregorius11/20/17
Wil Myers10/24/17
Quintana, Jose11/13/17
Stroman, Marcus10/16/17
Walker, Taijuan 11/06/17

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