The Cincinnati Reds look to the return of their ace when they host the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers in the opener of a three-game series Monday night.
Luis Castillo will make his first start of the season after missing the first month with a right shoulder strain.
Castillo has spent all season on the 10-day injured list and did not make an appearance in spring training. The right-hander looked strong in his three rehab starts in Cincinnati’s minor league system from April 24 through May 4.
Castillo had no wins or losses and an ERA of 0.87 in one start for Class A Dayton and two for Triple-A Louisville.
The 29-year-old right-hander made his final rehab start on Wednesday in Louisville, going 4 1/3 innings, giving up three hits, two walks with seven strikeouts. In his three rehab outings, he allowed just one run and seven hits with 16 strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings.
“It (went) well from everything I heard,” Reds manager David Bell said of Castillo’s final rehab start. “All the reports were excellent. It’s going to be great to have him back.”
Since his major league debut in 2017, Castillo leads the Cincinnati staff in wins (40), starts (123), innings pitched (707.1) and strikeouts (770).
The Reds are desperate for Castillo’s return, as they rank last in MLB starters’ ERA (8.54). The starters are a combined 3-20 and are the only team in baseball without a six-inning effort by a starter.
Castllo has made 17 starts against the Brewers in his five-year career. His record is only 4-8, but his ERA is 3.23 in 100 1/3 innings.
The Brewers counter with right-hander Brandon Woodruff (3-1, 5.18), who will make his sixth start of the season and second straight against the Reds. Woodruff last started last Tuesday against Cincinnati and earned the win in Milwaukee’s 6-3 victory. Woodruff matched a career high with 12 strikeouts while walking none, allowing just three runs on four hits over 5 2/3 innings.
Woodruff is 5-3 with a 3.22 ERA in 12 career games (10 starts) against the Reds.
While the Reds are coming off their first series win of the season in nine tries, taking two of three from Pittsburgh over the weekend, the Brewers have lost two straight for the first time since losing the first two games of the season.
The Brewers also suffered their first series loss since the opening weekend when they dropped the final two games to the struggling Braves in Atlanta over the weekend.
“Every team can have stretches like this, and it doesn’t surprise you,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said, adding that the Braves “have had some starting pitching injuries and … obviously, getting (Ronald) Acuña back is a huge deal for them. They have a lot of ways to beat you, and they’re going to win a lot of games.”
Brewers outfielder Andrew McCutchen reported symptoms of illness over the weekend, eventually testing positive for COVID-19 and being placed on the COVID injured list. To fill his spot, the Brewers recalled Mike Brosseau from Triple-A Nashville.
“It’s here this year for every team,” Counsell said. “We’re not the only team by any means. We just saw Cincinnati get hit hard with it last minute.”
The Reds have Joey Votto and Nick Senzel on COVID IL, and Tyler Naquin missed the series in Milwaukee last week due to the COVID protocol.
–Field Level Media