Castillo sets sights on Cy Young after earning first all-star honor

He’s first Reds starter selected since Johnny Cueto in 2014

Manager David Bell delivered the good news to starting pitcher Luis Castillo in front of the entire Cincinnati Reds roster before a game against the Chicago Cubs on Sunday in the clubhouse at Great American Ball Park. Until that moment, Castillo didn’t know he had been named to the National League All-Star team.

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“To be able to do that in front of all the people he cares about is a great personal honor,” Bell said.

Castillo's selection, the first of his career, couldn't have surprised anyone, but Bell saw how much it meant to Castillo from his reaction.

“He absolutely deserves it,” Bell said. “It’s just one more thing he can continue to build on. It’ll be fun to watch.”

Castillo is the first Reds starter to make the All-Star team since Johnny Cueto in 2014 and the first Reds pitcher since Aroldis Chapman in 2015. He’s one of 31 first-time all-stars and one of 33 players 28 and younger selected. The game will be played July 9 at Progressive Field in Cleveland.

“It feels really nice,” said Castillo through interpreter Julio Morillo. “I feel really happy. You set goals, and this is a goal I achieved today.”

And what’s next for Castillo?

“Now I’m going to be looking for the Cy Young,” he said.

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This is the first season since 2009 the Reds haven’t had a position player selected or more than one player. Three infielders — Joey Votto, Eugenio Suarez and Scooter Gennett — made the team last year.

Castillo (7-3) ranks third in the league with a 2.47 ERA and sixth in strikeouts (115). He has made 17 starts and thrown 98 1/3 innings. He has made major strides since last season when he was 10-12 with a 4.30 ERA in 31 starts.

Castillo’s run of success began last September. In his last 22 starts, he is 10-4 and leads all of baseball with a 2.12 ERA. Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander ranks second in that same stretch with a 2.48 ERA.

Castillo had one of his worst starts of the season June 22, allowing four earned runs in 3 2/3 innings in a 6-5 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers, but bounced back in his most recent start by allowing one earned run in seven innings Saturday in a 6-0 loss to the Chicago Cubs.

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The Reds reached the halfway point of the 162-game regular season Sunday with a record of 38-43. It’s hard to imagine where they would be without Castillo and the rest of the pitching staff. The Reds rank second in the National League with a 3.69 ERA.

The Dominican Republic native Castillo, 26, took a roundabout route to the big leagues and the Reds. He signed with the San Francisco Giants in December 2011, was traded to the Miami Marlins in December 2014 and then dealt to the Reds, along with Zeek White and Austin Brice, in January 2017 for Dan Straily. Castillo made his big-league debut for the Reds on June 23, 2017.

Straily was 15-15 with 4.20 ERA in two seasons with the Marlins. He’s now pitching for the Baltimore Orioles and is 2-4 with a 9.82 ERA.

“It was a very good trade,” Castillo said. “(The Reds) gave me the opportunity. They trusted me to be a big-league pitcher. Everything has worked out really well for me and the team.”

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