Reds starter Luis Castillo reacts after giving up a home run to the Nationals on March 31, 2018, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff

Reds catcher Barnhart expects to see the real Luis Castillo soon

After strong rookie season, Castillo struggles in first six starts in 2018

“He’s been a shell of who he has been this season,” Barnhart said Tuesday. “When he gets back up there on the mound and is right mechanically, it’ll be the guy everybody saw last year.”

Castillo was 3-7 with a 3.12 ERA in 15 starts last season as a rookie. He gave three or more earned runs six times. He was the only Reds pitcher who made at least 10 starts to have an ERA under 4.00.

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This season, in six starts, he has allowed at least three earned runs every time. His ERA climbed to 7.85 with the shortest outing of his career Friday in Minnesota. He allowed five earned runs in one inning. He’s one reason the Reds rank last in baseball in team ERA (5.37).

The Reds believe they have found Castillo’s issue, and the results in his upcoming starts should tell whether Castillo can fix it and turn his second season in the big leagues around.

“Danny Darwin and Ted (Power) and Derrin (Ebert) have identified some stuff from past years where maybe they think his arm angle has dropped a little bit,” interim manager Jim Riggleman said. “Whether that means your arm or whether your hand’s not getting on top of the ball, they’ll just try to make a little adjustment.”

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Riggleman would have liked to have seen Castillo throw two bullpen sessions between starts. There wasn’t time this week with Castillo pitching the series finale Wednesday night against the Milwaukee Brewers. He’ll get an extra day of rest next week.

The Reds, who fell to 7-23 with a 7-6 loss Tuesday at Great American Ball Park, remain confident in Castillo.

“He had a little mechanical issue that was going on,” Barnhart said. “He now knows about it. It’s been pointed out to him. They’ve gone to measures to fix it. When he does fix it, it should help his velocity get back up to where he was last year. Once that happens, everything will fall into place.”

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Barnhart described Castillo as confident and positive. There’s not much he needs to say to keep his spirits high.

“He’s an extremely talented guy,” Barnhart said. “To see him struggle a bit, it’s good because you’ve got to figure out how to get through those struggles but also you want to see him have success, and you want to help him through that as much as you can.”