GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) — Luis Castillo is set to start on opening day for the Cincinnati Reds, heading a rotation that lost NL Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer to free agency.
"Luis is as ready as he's ever been," manager David Bell said Friday at the Reds' spring training complex.
The Reds open the season April 1 at home against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Castillo has seen limited action in spring training, pitching in two games so far and giving up no runs and five hits in five innings with three strikeouts. He's coming off a 2020 season in which he was 4-6 with a 3.21 ERA in 70 innings with 89 strikeouts.
The 28-year-old Castillo was the Reds' opening day starter in 2019. He finished 15-8 with a 3.40 ERA and was selected to the NL All-Star team.
"I did it once but to do it twice is just as special," Castillo said through an interpreter. "The first thing I did was hug the manager and call my family."
Bell said the other Cincinnati starters are still to be determined, with decisions likely being made in the next week. Sonny Gray, who started the opener in 2020, is the likely No. 2. Wade Miley, Tyler Mahle, Tejay Antone and Michael Lorenzen are the top candidates.
Bauer signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers after going 5-4 with a 1.73 ERA during the pandemic-shortened season and helping the Reds reach the playoffs as a wild-card team.
The Reds will allow about 12,000 fans at Great American Ball Park after playing all of the 2020 season in empty stadiums.
"It will be nice to pitch opening day in front of fans this year," Castillo said. "They are a big part of the game. They transfer a lot of energy to us on the field."