Young Castillo inspiring confidence in Reds

Facing defending champs for first time, righty allows only 2 singles, fans 7 over 6 stifling innings

Young Castillo inspiring confidence in Reds

CHICAGO -- The Cubs lead the Majors with 51 home runs since the All-Star break and scored 15 runs against the Reds on Monday night. For six innings on Tuesday, Reds rookie pitcher Luis Castillo shut them down while seeing Chicago for the first time.

Castillo gave up two singles during the Reds' 2-1 victory. The 24-year-old right-hander walked two and struck out seven while throwing only 80 pitches.

"Give Castillo credit. I've not seen that kid before -- he's got a great arm," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "He doesn't have a good arm, he has a great arm."

The only reason Castillo had to exit was the Reds needed a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning of a scoreless tie. Patrick Kivlehan batted with runners on the corners and one out.

As the Reds have tried a cavalcade of rookie pitchers in the rotation, Castillo is the only one who can boast about his achievements this season. Through 11 big league starts since his promotion from Double-A, he's 2-5 with a 3.39 ERA. Over 66 1/3 innings, he has allowed 50 hits, with 28 walks and 66 strikeouts.

"Whenever he's pitching, we're pretty excited," Reds second baseman Scooter Gennett said. "Not only that he's got good numbers and he's a good pitcher, but he's fun to watch. He's just as poised on the mound, and how he attacks hitters is very cool and very special."

Castillo brought four different pitches against the Cubs, and it was the one he debuted just three weeks ago against the Yankees -- a two-seam fastball that averaged 97 mph -- that he used the most, throwing it 27 times. According to Statcast™, he threw his four-seam fastball and changeup 22 times each and the slider -- another pitch in development since the start of the season -- nine times. All were effective.

Every baserunner Castillo allowed on Tuesday came with two outs. Following a two-out walk of Kris Bryant in the first inning, Anthony Rizzo hit a single only for Victor Caratini to strike out on a changeup. Castillo's two strikeouts in the fifth inning came via sliders.

Castillo strikes out Rizzo

"I think the main thing is to believe 100 percent in your pitches," Castillo said via translator Julio Morillo. "That's what I'm doing right now, trying to believe that I have really good secondary stuff and a really good fastball. I focus 100 percent to throw the pitch I want to throw in any count. I really believe in my pitches right now."

Reds manager Bryan Price believes Castillo brings even more to the table than his pitches. Price likes how Castillo handles himself on the mound while focusing on all of the minutiae required -- from controlling the running game to having a quick tempo.

"Of all the things he brings to the table as far as stuff goes, the thing that is the most important is the intangibles of makeup, the ability to compete and trust and have faith in his stuff," Price said. "He's willing to throw it over. He's willing to challenge good hitters in the strike zone with good stuff."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com 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.