Castillo, 27, won 15 games last season and suffered just eight losses on a team the finished well below .500. He had a 3.40 ERA. Over the last three seasons he led the Reds pitching staff in wins (28), starts (78), innings (449.2) and strikeouts (489).
“The small little things are what we are focusing on this year,” Castillo said. “The mistakes from last year. We will learn from this year.”
Last season Castillo (226 strikeouts) and fellow right-hander Sonny Gray (205) became the first Reds teammates to each record at least 200 strikeouts in the same season. Their strikeout ratios of 10.67 and 10.52 per nine innings, respectively, were the highest in Reds history for pitchers with at least 125 innings. Both were National League All Stars.
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The Reds believe they have put together a young yet effective core group of starters with Castillo, Gray, Bauer and Anthony DeSclafani.
Gray was 11-8 with a 2.87 ERA and finished seventh in NL Cy Young voting. Bauer struggled once he came over to the Reds from the Indians, finishing 11-13 wtith a 4.48 ERA last season.
DeSclafani finished strong. In his last eight starts of the season he went 2-2 with a 2.39 ERA. He finished 9-9 with a 3.89 ERA.
“Disco at this point in his career took a huge step forward last year,” Bell said. “We talked about some of the reasons why. He deserves a ton of credit for the adjustments that he made. You look at his second half compared to his first half. It wasn’t a bad half by any means, but he found ways to be more effective against left handed hitters and left handed lineups. It was a huge key to his second half. He can just continue to build on that. He’s healthy. He’s strong and has a lot of confidence.”
With lefty veteran starter Wade Miley, 33, added to the mix, the Reds have the potential for a special rotation.
“We just need to keep building off of the positives from last season,” Bell said.