The hot-hitting Cincinnati Reds have arrived for their lone 2021 series in Denver, while the Rockies are riding high after a Wednesday night walk-off. Colorado will look to improve their 11-10 record at home as they close out the last four games of an eight-game homestand.
Luis Castillo, the Reds’ Opening Day starter, will make his eighth start of the year tonight. He posted an ERA+ of 157 last year, well above Rockies’ 2020 bWAR leader Antonio Senzatela (149). 2021 has turned sour for Castillo, however, as he currently holds career high figures in ERA, xERA, FIP, xFIP and WHIP.
Castillo throws a four-pitch mix — changeup (37.9%), four seamer (29.0%), sinker (17.2%) and slider (15.9%) — and all of his pitches are down about 1-2 MPH from where they were last year. His hard hit percentage of 37.6 is similar to his 2020 figure, but his barrel percentage is up from 4.5 to 6.8 and is his highest in three years. Castillo’s BABIP is also a career high which suggests some of his inflated figures are credited to hitting luck, but perhaps more revealing is his strikeout percentage of a mere 16.8 percent. He is punching out about half as many hitters as he did last year.
Chi Chi González will make his 8th start of the year on the heels of a four-inning, seven-run performance in St. Louis last Saturday. His WHIP currently stands at a 1.57, which can be especially dangerous against a Cincinnati lineup that holds the seventh-best wRC+ in baseball. González’s best pitch in terms of wOBA this year has been his changeup (.126), and it will be interesting to see how he sets up that pitch tonight after three consecutive starts on the road.
Kyle Freeland is also scheduled to pitch in Triple-A Albuquerque on Saturday, so this could be one of the last starts we see from González if the existing staff is to remain healthy and Freeland is to return.
Cincinnati’s offense holds MLB’s fourth-best wOBA, third-best slugging percentage and fifth-highest hard hit percentage. 16 percent of the Reds’ fly balls this year have turned into home runs, which is MLB’s third-highest rate. Despite the offensive success, the Reds sit at a .500 winning percentage. While the Rockies look to best their current wRC+ that ranks 30th, they will do so against a Reds lineup that features a struggling starter in Castillo and a tired bullpen. Cincinnati is coming off a Wednesday matchup with Pittsburgh where they used five pitchers of their own, while the Rockies used six in their Wednesday doubleheader.
Start Time: 6:40 p.m. MDT
TV: AT&T SportsNet, MLB.tv
Radio: KOA 850 AM/94.1 FM; KNRV 1150 (Spanish)