Slumping right-handers face off as Reds oppose Cubs

MLB

After struggling in April, Cincinnati’s Luis Castillo and the Chicago Cubs’ Zach Davies both hope to start May off on a positive note.

The struggling right-handers square off Saturday as the Cubs and Reds continue their three-game series in Cincinnati. The Reds claimed the opener 8-6 on Friday, with their third win in four games. Chicago took its sixth loss in seven games.

With reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer gone and Sonny Gray dealing with back spasms at the time, Castillo drew Cincinnati’s opening-day start. He allowed 10 runs, eight earned, over 3 1/3 innings in a loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in that contest, and he has continued to press.

Castillo (1-2, 6.29 ERA) has lasted more than five innings just once in five starts, and opponents are batting .311 in his three home starts.

Looking for answers amid his troubles, the right-hander allowed four runs and six hits in five innings of a 5-2 loss at St. Louis on Sunday.

“If I feel frustrated, then that affects me more mentally,” he said. “It’s not good for me if I feel frustrated. I’m always thinking positively that I’m going to get out of this.”

Castillo is 4-3 with a 3.86 ERA in 11 career starts against the Cubs. He yielded four runs off three homers over five innings of a 10-1 home loss to Chicago last Aug. 30. Ian Happ and Jason Heyward are a combined 12-for-33 with three homers versus Castillo.

The Reds will look to build on a Friday win that saw Joey Votto join Johnny Bench and Frank Robinson as the only Cincinnati players to reach the 300-homer mark. Votto’s fifth long ball of the season was one of his three hits on the night.

Votto is 5-for-10 with two homers in his past two games at home, where he is batting .321. He also has gone deep for one of his 11 hits in 30 at-bats versus Davies (1-2, 9.47 ERA).

The Cubs right-hander, who came over from the San Diego Padres in the Yu Darvish trade, hasn’t lasted longer than four innings in any of his past four starts. On Monday at Atlanta, Davies was tagged for five runs, six hits and four walks over 3 2/3 innings while not factoring in the decision of an 8-7 loss.

“It’s just been tough,” Davies said.

Chicago’s starting pitchers have a 9.55 ERA and have allowed 34 hits, including nine home runs, as the club has gone 1-4 to start a seven-game trip. Jake Arrieta allowed seven runs and three homers over 3 1/3 innings Friday.

“We do feel like things will come back around for (the rotation) and that they’ll start to find their groove,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “We’re just not at that point yet, but we need to get there.”

Despite Chicago’s recent struggles, Kris Bryant is batting .413 (19-for-46) with four of his seven home runs and 13 RBIs over his past 12 games. However, he is 4-for-18 (.222) vs. Castillo in his career.

Cincinnati’s Jesse Winker is batting .370 this season, and he has hit safely in all nine home games he has played. He is 4-for-7 with a homer lifetime against Davies.

–Field Level Media

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