When spring training began there was a question of who would be the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day starting pitcher. There wasn’t a wrong answer between Luis Castillo, who made the start in 2019, and Sonny Gray, who made the start in 2020. Both pitchers are among the very best in the league. But when Gray went down with back spasms and was said to be missing the first week or so of the season it became rather apparent who would be the starter against the St. Louis Cardinals on April 1st to kick off the season at Great American Ballpark.

On Friday evening the Cincinnati Reds made it official as they announced that it would indeed be Luis Castillo. Over the last two seasons he’s posted a 3.35 ERA in 44 starts. He’s thrown 260.2 innings, allowed just 201 hits, walked 103 batters (that’s a 1.17 WHIP), struck out 315, and posted a 140 ERA+. And for those of you who still want these kinds of things – he’s 19-14 in that time with a complete game.

“I think it’s pretty obvious what Luis has done as a pitcher,” said manger David Bell on Friday night. “He’s in a great spot this year. I’d say he’s as ready as I’ve ever seen him. Guys take a different approach to spring training – well he came into spring training this year ready to go, very focused, in great shape, his arm looks really close to being ready for the season. He’s just a young pitcher, still, that continues to get better and better. And in so many ways he’s just really the full package – he’s a great teammate, a great person, very humble but also confident. He’s got an easy way about him, but he competes as well as any pitcher I’ve been around. Don’t be fooled.”

As for Luis Castillo, he was happy about being told he was getting his second nod to take the ball on Opening Day.

“I felt awesome,” said Castillo of being told the news. “It’s opening day, of course I’m going to feel awesome. It’s just an honor. I think it’s so special because it’s every pitchers dream to be the opening day starter. Obviously I’ve done it once, but to do it twice is even better. Just because it’s the second time doesn’t mean it’s less or more, it’s just what I wanted to do.”

After a 2020 season for Cincinnati that saw no fans in the stands cheering for the Reds except for the grounds crew – who did a great job of it – having fans back, even in a limited capacity to being the season, has Castillo looking forward to April 1st against St. Louis.

“The fans are always a part of the game and they transmit some type of energy and adrenaline for us players,” Castillo said. “It’s going to be great to have them back.”