The Cincinnati Reds (1-0) are undefeated on July 25th for only the second time in history. The other time was 1869. Sure, the Reds only have one win this year, but let’s not worry about the qualifier on this one. The offense and pitching staff did exactly what you would like to see them do against the Detroit Tigers (0-1) on Opening Day, bringing home a 7-1 victory. Today kicks off game two of both the series and the season.
|Stats from the 2019 Season|
Coming off of an All-Star season, Luis Castillo should have the advantage in this match up today. But Castillo was quite a bit different in the second half last season compared to the first half. His first half ERA was 2.29 and he held hitters to a .562 OPS against him. But in the second half his ERA jumped up to 4.78 and hitters posted a .715 OPS against him. The big difference came in the power he gave up – in 79 fewer batters faced he allowed 17 doubles (12 in the first half) and 13 home runs (9 in the first half) – but his BABIP also jumped from .226 to .309. Not everything went in the wrong direction, though. His strikeout rate jumped up slightly, but his walk rate really improved.
Luis Castillo threw a lot more innings at home last season than on the road – 66% to 34% to be exact – and he was more successful at home. Far fewer home runs on a per-rate basis, and his walk rate was significantly lower. In turn, his average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage against were all also lower in Cincinnati than when he was pitching in the opponents ballpark.
His first half and second half splits were also a bit different. Actually, they were a lot different. His ERA more than doubled from the first to second half as his home run rate jumped up in a big way, and his BABIP went from .226 to .309 and that resulted in an OPS of .715 in the second half for hitters facing him versus the one they posted in the first half of just .562.
Luis Castillo is strong against both lefties and righties, but he really dominates right-handed hitters. Last season their OPS against him was just .583 on the year. Lefties didn’t have much success against him, but they did better than righties as they posted a .680 OPS against him during the 2019 season.
Pitch Usage and Value
|MLB Rank among 130 pitchers with 100 IP in 2019|
Luis Castillo has two very good pitches – his 2-seam fastball and his change up. Both of them are among the best in all of baseball. But his slider is basically a league average offering, and his 4-seam fastball despite strong velocity is a below-average pitch – or at least that was the case for 2019.
A free agent pick up in January for the Tigers, Ivan Nova is coming off of his worst ERA season since 2015 when he was pitching for the New York Yankees. Last season with the White Sox he posted a 4.72 ERA – but that’s not as bad as it seems on the surface, his ERA+ was 97 – meaning his ERA when adjusted for the ballparks was nearly league average. With that said the 6′ 6″ right-handed pitcher led the American League in hits allowed with 225 of them in his 187.0 innings. Nova doesn’t walk many hitters, but he also doesn’t strike hitters out. As you can see in the stats above, he struck out hitters at a rate less than half of that of Luis Castillo in 2019. His strikeout rate of 14.1% was second lowest among qualified starters in baseball last season.
When it comes to splits, there are a few that stuck out last year. On the road his ERA was 5.08, compared to 4.24 at home. Hitters lit him up on the road, hitting .337/.386/.508 against him in 20 road starts in 2019. His strikeout to walk ratio was also significantly worse on the road than it was at home. That said, he was also a lot better in the second half of the season compared to the first – with an ERA of 3.72 after the All-Star break (5.58 in the first half), mostly because he kept the ball in the park a lot better.
Righties and lefties had an OPS that was just 4 points apart from each other, but righties got on base a lot more against him, while lefties showed more pop against him.
Pitch Usage and Value
|MLB Rank among 130 pitchers with 100 IP in 2019|
When it comes to the pitch repertoire for Ivan Nova he will bring five offerings to the table. His main offering is a 2-seam fastball that he throws 38% of the time, but he’ll also mix in a 4-seamer 16% of the time. His secondary stuff gets pretty similar usage with a change up and curveball both coming in 16% of the time, and a slider at 13%. He doesn’t throw hard – his fastball averaged 92.4 MPH last season. According to Fangraphs Pitch Values, only his change up was a pitch that wasn’t below-average last year, and it was league average.
|Niko Goodrum – SS||Jesse Winker -DH|
|Jonathan Schoop – 2B||Joey Votto – 1B|
|Miguel Cabrera – DH||Eugenio Suárez – 3B|
|C.J. Cron – 1B||Mike Moustakas – 2B|
|Christin Stewart – LF||Nick Castellanos – RF|
|Jeimer Candelario – 3B||Shogo Akiyama – LF|
|Cameron Maybin – RF||Nick Senzel – CF|
|Austin Romine – C||Freddy Galvis – SS|
|JaCoby Jones – CF||Curt Casali – C|
|Ivan Nova – SP||Luis Castillo – SP|
With a right-handed pitcher on the mound, David Bell is getting some more lefties into the lineup. Jesse Winker is getting the start at designated hitter today, and Shogo Akiyama is making his first start in the Major Leagues with the nod in left field. They’ll join Joey Votto and Mike Moustakas to make four lefties in the lineup to start the day.
Last season lefties got on base less against Ivan Nova, but they hit for more power, too. His overall splits were fairly similar, so the advantage may not be huge here – but every little bit does help.
When and Where
- Game time: 5:10pm ET
- Where: Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark
- Watch: Fox Sports Ohio, Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.tv
- Listen: 700 WLW AM (Cincinnati area)
- Forecast: Sunny and 87° at first pitch, 0% chance of rain.
NL Central Standings
News and Notes
Aristides Aquino, Tejay Antone called up
This just happened as we hit post on this article. The Reds called up Aristides Aquino and Tejay Antone to take the spots on the roster vacated by Matt Davidson (positive test for COVID-19) and Tucker Barnhart (3-day paternity leave – best of luck!).
Nick Castellanos works on his defense
After the game on Friday night, outfielder Nick Castellanos headed back to right field and took fly balls for nearly an hour. He’s stated several times since signing that he wants to continue to work and improve on his defense. He also stated that he signed with the Reds for a lot of reasons, but one of them was so that he wouldn’t have to be a designated hitter and could play in the field. Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer had this from earlier today:
David Bell said his conversation with Nick Castellanos was "intense in a good way." He said Castellanos is determined to be best all-around player he can be. "This guy is exceptional with his work ethic." #Reds https://t.co/XbiVAUXMPZ
— Bobby Nightengale (@nightengalejr) July 25, 2020
Tigers claim RHP Carson Fulmer
He probably won’t get a chance to play in this series for Detroit, but the Reds take the Tigers on again next week and Carson Fulmer should be available by then. Fulmer was the 8th overall draft pick in 2015 out of Vanderbilt. But since making his debut in 2016, he’s barely pitched in the Majors, with a career high innings pitched of 32.1 in 2018. His ERA for his career is 6.56 due in large part to his inability to throw strikes with any consistency (64 walks in 94.2 innings).