by Steve Mancuso

Pitching for miles and miles and miles

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Pitching for Miles

When the Reds managed to win a series last weekend in St. Louis and our attention turned to the 10-game home stand, we mused that “if only the Reds could sweep the Pirates” they could get right back in the postseason chase. We knew full well our “if only” pleas had gone largely unrewarded in 2020. The Pirates as a last-place team had been pesky for the Reds, splitting the season’s first six games. So many series this season the Reds have failed to capitalize against teams at the bottom part of the standings.

But here we are three days — and four wins over the Buccos — later. Once again the Reds pitching came through. The offense managed just one run but Luis Castillo, Archie Bradley and Raisel Iglesias defended the wall and made it stand up. 

The Reds have now won 7 of their last 9 games and 5 in a row. It was the first 4-game sweep of any team since June of 2018. The Reds are rushing fast toward both second place in the NL Central and one of the two NL Wild Card slots. Either is a ticket to the postseason. 

Celebrate tonight, Reds fans.

But then brace yourselves for the Chicago White Sox who stride into Cincinnati for a three game weekend series. The White Sox were 32-16 heading into tonight’s game. That’s the second-best record in baseball behind only the Dodgers. The White Sox are not the Pittsburgh Pirates. They are led by a bunch of exciting young players acquired and developed through a successful rebuild. One run per game isn’t gonna get it done.

Come Friday, we’ll see if these Reds are ready to take on the league’s best. 

Game Analysis

There are more than one way to succeed as a Major League pitcher. The Reds rotation is walking, talking, changeup throwing proof of that. Trevor Bauer, Tyler Mahle and Lucas Sims throw high fastballs with plenty of spin. They have low ground ball rates. When Luis Castillo isn’t striking out batters, he’s inducing ground ball after ground ball with his changeup. Castillo has the highest GB% in baseball, Bauer has the third-lowest. Either of those guys can pitch for me, same with Sims and Mahle. 

Castillo was coming off his first career complete game, a 2-hit, 1-run domination of the St. Louis Cardinals. Tonight, he mixed a 98-mph fastball with a deadly 88-mph changeup for 7 shutout innings. He struck out 10 and walked only one. In 7 of his ten starts this year he’s given up two or fewer walks. That’s been a vital key to his success. 

Look at how well Castillo kept his changeup (green) down. 

Here’s the same chart filtered to show only third strikes — high fastballs and low changeups. The yellow dot represents the *one* slider Castillo threw tonight.

Here’s a video of one of those changeups. 

We shouldn’t short change Castillo’s fastball. He threw all 53 of them at least 96.8 mph. Before Raisel Iglesias entered the game, Castillo’s fastballs were the 53 fastest pitches thrown in the game. The Reds social media crew has your slo-mo Castillo. 

The deadline acquisition of Archie Bradley continued to pay dividends tonight as he pitched a clean 8th inning. Bradley has thrown 6.2 innings for the Reds giving up no earned runs. He has struck out five and walked none. 

Raisel Iglesias pitched the 9th and retired the Pirates 1-2-3. It was Iglesias’ 8th appearance in September, covering 9.1 innings. He’s given up just one earned run over that stretch. He ended the game on a strikeout of Colin Moran. 

The Reds anemic offense showed up tonight. They managed one lonely run. Back-to-back-to-back 2-out singles by Jose Garcia, Curt Casali and Shogo Akiyama plated the lone score of the game. 

Most Valuable Player

  • Luis Castillo .474 WPA (win probability added)
  • Raisel Iglesias .174 WPA
  • Archie Bradley .126 WPA

Hardest-Hit Balls

  • Nick Castellanos 104.5 mph | double
  • Freddy Galvis 101.2 mph line out
  • Jose Garcia 100.7 mph | ground out

Highest Velocities by Pitcher

  • Luis Castillo 98.7 mph
  • Raisel Iglesias 98.1 mph
  • Archie Bradley 95.1 mph

What’s Next?

The Reds have tomorrow off before playing a three-game weekend series against the Chicago White Sox at GABP. The White Sox are in first place of the AL Central division with a record of 32-16. Starting pitchers haven’t been announced, but there’s a good chance the Reds will face Jonathan Stiever (23), Dylan Cease (24) and Dane Dunning (25). We’ll have a full White Sox preview tomorrow. 

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Steve Mancuso is a lifelong Reds fan who grew up during the Big Red Machine era. He’s been writing about the Reds for more than ten years. Steve’s fondest memories about the Reds include attending a couple 1975 World Series games, being at Homer Bailey’s second no-hitter and going nuts for Jay Bruce at Clinchmas. Steve was also at all three games of the 2012 NLDS, but it’s too soon to talk about that.