It’s another afternoon game at Wrigley Field, with a rematch of the pitching match-up from the first Saturday in May at Great American Ball Park. The Cincinnati Reds (22-27) meet up with the Chicago Cubs (28-22) for the second game of this three game weekend series. The Cubs have won five in a row, and the Reds will try to get their offense restarted after being shut-out 1-0 yesterday.
First pitch is at 2:20 EDT. The game can be found on Bally Sports Ohio. If you’re outside the Cincinnati market, it is also MLB.tv’s Free Game of the Day. You can also listen on 700 WLW (and you never know what you’ll get on radio broadcasts, like Joey Votto doing play by play).
Right-hander Luis Castillo seemed to be turning a corner after his home start against the Giants. Although he gave up three runs on six hits, he struck out 11 in five innings. It seemed like everything may have been starting to turn around for him. And then he pitched against the Brewers last Sunday and allowed five runs on five hits while walking four.
Castillo has faced the Cubs once this year, at GABP. It was one of his better starts, in which he gave up three runs on eight hits with three strikeouts and one walk in 5.1 innings.
You might think walks are hurting Castillo on the mound, as he’s already walked 19 batters in ten starts this season. Last season, in 12 starts, he walked 24 batters. But his overall walk rate sits at 8.4%, about the same as 2020 and down from the 10.1% walk rate in 2019. What is really hurting him is that his strikeout rate is the lowest of his career at 19.9%, and the lowest since it was 23.3% in 2018. The whiff rate on his change up is down to 28.9% from 40.1% in 2020, and the whiff rate on his four-seamer is at 20.9%, down from 37.2% a year ago. If Castillo’s whiff rates are down, it means his contact rates are up. More batters are making contact against him, and that’s something that he and Derek Johnson have to figure out.
Right-hander Zach Davies is not having the season he would like, and especially not the season he had last year in San Diego when he posted a 2.73 ERA in 69.1 innings. He also had a strikeout rate of 22.8% last year, which was a career high by a lot. Normally his strikeout rate has been in the 15-18 percent range. Most of his issues this year stem from allowing walks. He’s walked almost as many batters as he’s struck out, and his 11.8% walk rate is the highest it’s been in his career.
When Davies faced the Reds May 1 at GABP, he pitched only four innings, giving up four hits on two runs, one earned, while walking three batters and striking out three.
Davies throws four pitches, but mainly relies on his sinker and his change up. He averages about 88 mph with his sinker and 78-79 mph with his change up. That change up is his out pitch, as his whiff rate this year is 30.1% and he has 17 strikeouts with it. Last year, his whiff rate was 35.9% with 41 strikeouts.
|SS Eugenio Suárez||LF Joc Pederson|
|LF Jesse Winker||1B Kris Bryant|
|RF Nick Castellanos||SS Javier Báez|
|CF Tyler Naquin||CF Ian Happ|
|C Tyler Stephenson||C Willson Contreras|
|3B Max Schrock||RF Rafael Ortega|
|2B Jonathan India||3B David Bote|
|P Luis Castillo||2B Eric Sogard|
|1B Alex Blandino||P Zach Davies|
After a day off, Eugenio Suárez is back in the lineup, back to the leadoff spot, and back at shortstop. Also notable is that manager David Bell is hitting Castillo in the eighth spot, hoping to get some lineup turnover with his best hitters at the top.
News and Notes
If you’re a subscriber to The Athletic, C. Trent Rosecrans posted a great story this morning about how Joey Votto wound up in the radio booth yesterday afternoon.
Why did Joey Votto drop in on ?@RedsRadioBooth?? “I like talking ball and listen to other people’s takes and communicating with our fan base. So, I was intrigued.”
— C. Trent Rosecrans (@ctrent) May 29, 2021
This really is a huge series for the Reds. They came into the series four games under .500. Winning the series would be ideal to keep themselves within striking distance of the Cubs and Cardinals. Meanwhile, the Cubs are on a five-game winning streak and seemingly moving in the opposite direction as the Reds. Losing 1-0 yesterday was not the way to start, but if they can get a win today, Tyler Mahle is pitching tomorrow. The opportunity is still there to finish with a winning road trip.