Luis Castillo fondly remembers his team turning a triple play in the second inning of his Yankee Stadium debut and is looking forward to facing the New York Yankees for the second time, even as trade rumors swirl around his name.

The right-hander will be a focal point Thursday night when he takes the mound for the Cincinnati Reds in the rubber game of a three-game series with the Yankees.

Castillo (3-4, 2.92 ERA) will make his 136th career start on Thursday. When he made his debut in the Bronx on July 25, 2017, he was seven starts into a career that has led to him being among the coveted pitchers for contenders ahead of the Aug. 2 trade deadline.

In his first start in New York, he allowed three runs and seven hits in five innings. During that contest, he got Todd Frazier to hit into a 6-3-5-6 triple play on which a run scored.

“It’s one of the biggest stadiums in all of baseball and it means a lot to me that I’ll be pitching here,” Castillo said through an interpreter Wednesday afternoon. “It’s pretty significant that I’ll be pitching here.”

As for the trade talk, Castillo is merely focused on continuing a run in which he has allowed three earned runs or less in 14 of his past 15 starts dating to last September.

“I’ve always heard those rumors for quite a while now,” Castillo said. “The team has all the control over that; I don’t. So I just go out there on the mound and do my best.”

Castillo has allowed a total of two runs and has struck out 25 over 20 innings in his past three outings. He is coming off consecutive no-decisions. On Friday, he gave up one run on four hits in seven innings before Cincinnati scored in the 10th inning of a 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Yankees will face Castillo after rallying from an early four-run deficit and getting a 7-6 win Wednesday when DJ LeMahieu scored the tie-breaking run on the second straight wild pitch by Alexis Diaz in the 10th inning. Giancarlo Stanton hit a tying homer in the eighth as the Yankees dodged what would have been a season-high fourth straight loss.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of Castillo, “He’s one of the premier pitchers out there. Certainly been the Reds’ ace for the last few years. He’s a special talent (with) a really special changeup.”

The Yankees will take the field after Luis Severino undergoes an MRI. The right-hander exited his Wednesday start after the second inning due to a tight right shoulder. During the outing against Cincinnati, his velocity was down and he gave up three consecutive homers to Kyle Farmer, Mike Moustakas and Stuart Fairchild in the second inning.

New York’s Nestor Cortes (7-3, 2.74 ERA) will make his first start since being selected to the American League All-Star team. The left-hander will look to rebound from his shortest start of the season, when he allowed four runs and eight hits in 3 2/3 innings during New York’s 12-5 win at Boston on Friday.

Since pitching seven shutout innings in a 6-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels, Cortes is 2-2 with a 5.34 ERA in his past six starts. He will face the Reds for the first time in his career.

–Field Level Media