Marlins aim for 4-game sweep of Reds (Jul 30, 2017)

BY AP • July 29, 2017

MIAMI -- On Jan. 19, the Cincinnati Reds traded right-hander Dan Straily to the Miami Marlins.

So far, the Marlins have gotten the better of the deal. Straily (7-6, 3.84 ERA) has been Miami's most consistent starter this season.

However, when the Marlins and Reds close their four-game series on Sunday, the teams' scouting staffs will be on trial in a sense.

The Reds will start rookie right-hander Luis Castillo, who came to Cincinnati as part of Miami's payment for Straily. The Reds also got two other prospects in the deal -- pitcher Austin Brice and outfielder Isaiah White.

Castillo (1-4, 4.05 ERA) is the centerpiece of the trade, at least right now. His fastball has reached 101 mph, and he has 45 strikeouts in 40 innings in the majors this year. He was deprived of two would-be wins this year when the bullpen blew save chances.

His best performance came July 8, when he pitched 6 2/3 innings of scoreless ball in a 7-0 win over the host Arizona Diamondbacks. Castillo allowed three hits and one walk, striking out eight batters in a career-high 113-pitch effort.

Overall, in seven major league starts this year, Castillo has just 17 walks.

"The numbers (in the minors) would suggest that he is a strike-thrower, but that doesn't always translate up here," Reds manager Bryan Price told the media after that game at Arizona.

"We didn't know about (Castillo's) presence, his maturity. We didn't know about his willingness to throw strikes or his ability to throw the ball over the plate."

Castillo, 24, was promoted from Double-A, bypassing Triple-A in his route to the majors. But he hasn't seemed out of place, even in his past three starts, when he allowed 10 earned runs in 17 innings.

Those recent lackluster numbers have not changed Price's view on Castillo, who has the stuff and the potential to be the ace of the Reds' staff, especially if his changeup continues to improve.

One thing for sure: Cincinnati loves his demeanor on the mound.

"He exudes confidence," Price said.

It will be interesting to see Castillo and Straily battle Sunday. But in terms of their January trade, the Reds seem to have time on their side. As Castillo continues to evolve, Brice and White are also making some strides.

Brice, a 25-year-old former ninth-round pick, is a reliever who is 1-1 with a 3.72 ERA in 13 games at Triple-A Louisville this year. He has 18 strikeouts in 19 1/3 innings. He also pitched 19 games for the Reds earlier this year, sporting a 5.65 ERA.

White, a 20-year-old speedster, is the wild card in the trade. He was Miami's third-round pick in 2015 and has 21 steals in 27 attempts, spread out over 110 career minor league games.

But his other career numbers are mediocre -- a .237 batting average, two homers and a .644 OPS.

As for Straily, he could be the next Marlins player to get dealt before Monday's trade deadline.

The Marlins have traded shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria and relievers David Phelps and A.J. Ramos in the past month. The Ramos trade, which was announced late Friday night, angered Miami right fielder Giancarlo Stanton.

"It's the same thing every year," said Stanton, who has been with the Marlins since 2010 and has yet to make the playoffs.

Despite Stanton's frustration, the Marlins are playing well. Their 7-3 win over the Reds on Saturday was their fourth victory in a row, tying their best win streak of the season.

The Marlins (49-53) have also won seven of its past nine games and will go for a four-game sweep of the Reds on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Cincinnati (41-63) has lost six games in a row. The Reds have also lost eight straight games at Marlins Park.

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