The game has been postponed.

On Tuesday night we noted here at Redleg Nation that the #1 starter on the pitching staff was called a stopper for a reason – to stop any losing streak that may be happening at the time. Well, last night the Cincinnati Reds (2-4) stopper, Sonny Gray, did just that as he dominated the Chicago Cubs (4-2) behind an offensive explosion. Tonight the two teams get back at it at 6:10pm ET….. if the weather gets itself together.

Starting Pitchers

Pitcher IP ERA WHIP BB% K%
Luis Castillo 6.0 1.50 1.17 4.0% 44.0%
Yu Darvish 4.0 6.75 1.50 0.0% 25.0%
Links: Luis Castillo’s 2019 Stats | Yu Darvish’s 2019 Stats

Luis Castillo

We are going into the second week of the season today in Major League Baseball, though for the Reds it is still just six days into the season. Luis Castillo was outstanding in his first start. The 2019 All-Star allowed one run on six hits in 6.0 innings with a walk and 11 strikeouts against the Detroit Tigers on Saturday.

Let’s take a look at some stats on Luis Castillo from last season to get an idea of what we could expect today.


Home 125.2 3.15 12 8.1% 27.9% .191 .263 .308
Away 65.0 3.88 10 13.6% 30.7% .222 .337 .407
1st Half 106.0 2.29 9 12.3% 28.8% .169 .286 .276
2nd Half 84.2 4.78 13 7.4% 29.1% .239 .296 .419

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.

vsRHH 369 64 12 0 9 9.2% 27.9% .194 .270 .312
vsLHH 412 75 17 1 13 10.9% 29.9% .209 .308 .372

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

4-Seam 2-Seam Slider Change
Velo 96.5 96.6 85.9 87.3
Usage 30% 21% 17% 32%
Value/100 -0.36 1.5 -0.13 2.68
MLB Rank 82nd 11th 61st 2nd
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.

Yu Darvish

Unlike Luis Castillo, the first start of the year didn’t go so well for Yu Darvish. He allowed three runs in 4.0 innings on six hits and he hit a batter. The right-handed pitcher took the loss in the game, but did pick up five strikeouts against the Brewers on the day while throwing 73 pitches.

Let’s take a look back at Darvish in 2019 to see what we may be able to expect from the Cubs starting pitcher.


Home 85.1 4.96 19 7.9% 30.6% .231 .297 .458
Away 93.1 3.09 14 7.5% 32.0% .196 .273 .366
1st Half 97.0 5.01 20 11.7% 26.5% .225 .326 .433
2nd Half 81.2 2.76 13 2.2% 37.8% .199 .228 .384

So there’s a lot to digest here. Yu Darvish was not good in the 1st half last year. And he wasn’t really good at home for the Cubs last season, either. But he pitched better on the road – keeping the ball in the ballpark a bit more being the key difference. Great American Ballpark is home run friendly – which clearly if you’re reading the words here at Redleg Nation you already know – but when teams got to Darvish last year it was usually because they put the ball into the seats.

After a struggle in the first half, Darvish was flat out dominant in the second half. His ERA dropped 2.25 runs as he lowered his home run rate, saw his walks almost disappear entirely, and he struck out batters at nearly the highest rate in baseball in the second half among starting pitchers. When he’s on top of things, he’s very, very good. And in the second half last season he was absolutely on top of things.

vsRHH 356 57 10 1 14 9.3% 36.0% .181 .266 .352
vsLHH 375 83 13 3 19 6.1% 26.9% .245 .301 .465

Guys don’t get on base much against Yu Darvish no matter which side of the plate that they hit from. But there’s a huge advantage for left-handed hitters when it comes to the power department as when they do make contact, which isn’t exactly often, they do tend to make it count when it lands somewhere that isn’t a fielders glove.

Pitch Usage and Value

4-Seam 2-Seam Slider Splitter Curve Cutter
Velo 94.2 94.4 85.1 88.8 77.4 91.3
Usage 26% 9% 45% 8% 7% 5%
Value/100 -0.94 -2.46 1.63 2.12 3.14 -0.20
MLB Rank 109 83 14 1 2 27
MLB Rank among 130 pitchers with 100 IP in 2019

If you are going to do something against Yu Darvish then you need to do it on a fastball, where both his 4-seamer and his sinker are towards the bottom of the league. Once you get into the offspeed offerings, Darvish is among the best in the league. Don’t let him get ahead in the count or he’s likely to bury you with his secondary arsenal led by his slider. While the splitter and curveball rate out #1 and #2 in baseball on a value basis per thrown pitch, he doesn’t throw them nearly as often as his slider – which he throws a ton and was the 14th best in the game among starters last season.

Starting Lineups

Chicago Cubs

Cincinnati Reds

Kris Bryant – 3B Shogo Akiyama – LF
Anthony Rizzo – 1B Joey Votto – 1B
Javier Baez – SS Eugenio Suarez – 3B
Kyle Schwarber – LF Mike Moustakas – 2B
Willson Contreras – DH Nick Castellanos – RF
Jason Heyward – RF Jesse Winker – DH
Victor Caratini – C Nick Senzel – CF
Nico Hoerner – 2B Freddy Galvis – SS
Ian Happ – CF Tucker Barnhart – C
Yu Darvish – SP Luis Castillo – SP

As we noted above, Yu Darvish doesn’t handle lefties as well as he does righties and David Bell loaded the lineup with lefties. If the game gets going the Reds lineup will feature six left-handed hitters to begin the night, with only Saurez, Castellanos, and Senzel being right-handed (Galvis is a switch hitter). The Cubs lineup is leaning lefty, too, with four of their starters tonight beginning the game as left-handed hitters – including both Caratini and Happ, who are switch hitters.

When and Where

  • Game time: 6:10pm ET
  • Where: Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark
  • Watch: Fox Sports Ohio, Marquee Network,
  • Listen: 700 WLW AM (Cincinnati area)
  • Forecast: Continued rain, 70°

NL Central Standings

Team Wins Losses GB
Cubs 4 2 0.0
Brewers 3 3 1.0
Cardinals 2 3 1.5
Reds 2 4 2.0
Pirates 2 4 2.0

News and Notes

Tejay Antone shows off elite spin rates

In his Major League debut this week, right-handed pitcher Tejay Antone threw the ball very well. He allowed one run, a solo homer, on one hit in 4.1 innings of relief of Wade Miley. Antone also picked up five strikeouts with just one walk. It was an impressive showing, but the Statcast data showed a whole lot more impressive stuff going on, too. The spin rates that the Reds rookie showed jumped off of the chart.

Tejay Antone showed off elite spin rates in his Reds debut

Former Reds manager John McNamara passes away

John McNamara has passed away at the age of 88.

Manager of the Cincinnati Reds from 1979-1982, John McNamara went 279-244 with the club before being let go during the 1982 season after a 34-58 start. It was the only season in which he had a losing record with the club. He would manage in parts of 20 seasons in the Major Leagues, leading his teams to the playoffs twice in that span – including the ill-fated 1986 Red Sox.

Marlins outbreak leads to new rules for all teams

This morning another Miami Marlins player returned a positive COVID-19 test, pushing the number for the players on the team that are out up to 17, with two more on the staff that travels with the team. Last night there were new rules agreed to for the season moving forward between MLB and the MLBPA. That includes a compliance officer, as well as the use of surgical masks instead of cloth masks during travel. Jeff Passan has the full story over at ESPN.

Speaking of the Marlins outbreak – the Phillies were the team that was playing them on opening weekend and their season has been paused for the time being as well. Today two members of the Phillies staff, a coach, and a clubhouse staff member tested positive. Thursday through Saturday were the days that the doctors said the tests would be important for Philadelphia with regards to whether or not they caught anything from the Marlins.