Castillo was able to work out individually at Great American Ballpark on Wednesday for the first time since the facilities closed due to the COVID-19 crisis, Bobby Nightengale of The Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Both Great American Ballpark and the Reds facilities in Arizona have partially re-opened, without coaches and only for players that are in town. It's not much, but it's a start for some players.
Castillo spent a portion of spring training working on improving his slider, C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic reports. Pitching coach Derek Johnson spoke of that work developing the slider: "There were some (strikeouts) on his slider, which I think has gotten better. I don't have the numbers in front of me on what he struck out guys with. Of course, the changeup is a weapon. I also think in time guys are going to start looking for his changeup more." Last year, Castillo used his slider the least often of his four pitches, throwing it 17 percent of the time. It generated a lot of whiffs (47.5%) and a low batting average against (.190), but opposing hitters did some damage when they made contact, slugging .452 against it. The changeup will likely always be Castillo's best pitch, but he would benefit from a second reliable offspeed offering.
In Castillo's four spring training starts, he had an 8.68 ERA and 2.14 WHIP, having allowed nine runs and 16 hits over 9.1 innings. He struck out 14 and walked four over that span. Castillo had similar, maybe even slightly worse, numbers last spring and then exploded out of the gate with seven regular-season games in which he allowed two or fewer runs. That would lead us to the conclusion to not put undue emphasis on his spring training numbers, lest we miss out on one of the dwindling number of healthy aces in our respective drafts.
Castillo threw two innings in Saturday's spring training loss to the Padres, allowing a run on four hits, a wild pitch and a walk and striking out four in the process. In his first spring training outing Monday, he only got two outs while allowing three runs on three hits and two walks, Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports. Castillo's command isn't quite there yet. "Better," manager David Bell said of Castillo's outing Saturday. "I thought it was a good step. Still not where he needs to get to by the start of the season. Definitely a step in the right direction."
Castillo threw live batting practice Thursday, and his changeup was especially effective against new teammate Mike Moustakas, Bobby Nightengale of The Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Pitchers are typically ahead of hitters at this stage, and that would especially be the case when they can alter the hitter's timing with offspeed pitches. Nonetheless, it's good to see Castillo's go-to pitch working well early this spring.
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