Reds counting on hot Castillo against Braves

Field Level Media

April 25, 2019 at 4:34 am.

The Cincinnati Reds are hopeful that right-hander Luis Castillo can extend his streak of good pitching when they wrap up a three-game series against the visiting Atlanta Braves on Thursday at Great American Ball Park.

Castillo (2-1, 1.47 ERA) will be opposed by veteran Atlanta right-hander Julio Teheran (2-2, 5.61). The two teams have split the first two games of the series.

In his last 10 appearances since Aug. 1, 2018, Castillo is 5-2 and during that span leads all Major League starting pitchers with a 1.27 ERA. This season he is among the National League leaders in starts (five), ERA and strikeouts (41).

Since the distance from the pitching rubber to home plate was set at 60 feet, six inches in 1893, only three times has a pitcher made three consecutive starts with at least eight strikeouts and no more than two hits allowed. Castillo’s streak was snapped April 15 against Los Angeles with a 4-3 walkoff loss.

Castillo, 26, has not allowed more than two runs or four hits in any of his five starts. His fewest strikeouts in a game was seven. Castillo is coming off a 4-2 win at San Diego, when he gave up one run over six innings with nine strikeouts.

“He’s a special guy,” Cincinnati catcher Tucker Barnhart said. “His stuff is extremely, extremely good. It’s 100 (mph) with a foot of movement. That’s extremely hard to hit. Plus, there’s a changeup that looks like it hits the brakes before it gets to you.”

Castillo has faced the Braves twice in his career and is 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA. He received no decision in his last start against Atlanta in 2018, lasting only four innings and giving up five runs, four earned, on June 27.

Teheran has been inconsistent this season, alternating a good game with a bad game. In his last outing against the Cleveland Indians, he allowed five runs on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings, his shortest stint of the season. But in the previous start against the Mets, Teheran allowed one run over six innings.

Teheran had trouble gripping the ball in the cold weather in Cleveland.

“Obviously, I didn’t have my best slider,” he said. “It was a battle. I knew I didn’t have my best, so I was fighting with my other pitches.”

He has made seven career starts against Cincinnati, going 3-3 with a 3.95 ERA. He has 36 strikeouts and 12 walks in 43 1/3 innings against the Reds. Teheran didn’t face the Reds in 2018. In his last start against Cincinnati on Aug. 25, 2017, Teheran was beaten after allowing five runs in six innings.

Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman has reached base in 23 straight games, the longest season-opening streak in the National League and the longest by an Atlanta player since J.D. Drew reached in 27 straight games to open the 2004 season. Eddie Mathews holds the franchise record with 37 straight for Milwaukee in 1961.

Cincinnati has dominated the series at Great American Ballpark, going 6-2-2 in their last 10 series. The Reds won two of three at home against the Braves in 2014 and 2017.