Blue Jays Game Analysis: Shoulda Stuck With Castro
The beauty of having Blue Jays baseball back is that there is an endless amount of actual game analysis rather than debating about roster moves and free agent signings. As such, I wanted to explore an idea that came up from last night’s 4-3 loss to the Yankees after a late bullpen implosion. I’d like to (as hard as it may be) set aside that this is a sight all too familiar to Blue Jays fans as they watched the 2014 ‘pen suffer similar performances. Instead, I’d like to examine what I think is the pivotal point in the game; where everything went wrong.
Before I do, I will also acknowledge that this kind of activity will drive people insane if they are to attempt to nit pick over every aspect of every game. There are 160 (hopefully more) of these. So, I fully understand the idea behind not making a mountain out of a mole hill.
But, I’m going to anyway.
Toronto Blue Jays
So, the situation was this: Miguel Castro came on in the 7th inning after starter, R.A. Dickey recorded one out. Dickey struck out Brian McCann on a full count. The next batter, Chase Headley singled. Sensing that Dickey’s night was over, and a lead still in tact, John Gibbons came out and went to Miguel Castro to come in and stop the bleeding. And, he did. Alex Rodriguez seemed to get all of a flaming fastball, but the wind held it in the park. Then, Castro made very short work of Stephen Drew for a swinging K. Like we’ve seen already, Castro isn’t timid. The pressure of protecting a lead IN Yankee Stadium did not phase him. He shut the inning down and held the lead in tact.
But, the next inning, Gibby decided to go with his lefty tandem of Aaron Loup and Brett Cecil to face the upcoming left handed batters. And, it makes sense. Last season, Loup held lefties to a .154 average. Cecil, .244 (actually, Cecil is better vs righties- .210). It is easy to see how the numbers would indicate the switch from the young righty. Traditional thinking would dictate as much.
But, it didn’t work. Obviously, we are coming from a perspective of hindsight, here. I acknowledge that. However, IN THE MOMENT, it didn’t feel like the right call. Here’s why:
The Yankees countered with a pinch hitter. No lefty/lefty match up anymore, which was the whole reason for bringing in Loup. Even if Castro had to face lefties (as a righty), it would not have made much of a difference. Thanks to the folks at minorleaguecentral.com, we see that there is not much cause for concern at the moment if Castro were to face lefties. For his MiLB career, he has been rather effective against lefties. He’s held them to a .172 avg and put up a WHIP of 1.20. I will concede that he’s had more trouble finding the strike zone vs lefties given his 5.03 BB/9. However, the preipherals of 62.2 innings pitched suggests that he would not have been a lesser option to throw in against lefties. Just to assume that Loup and Cecil are better because they are lefties is short sighted.
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Castro showed ZERO signs of fatigue, weather issues (it was cold and increasingly wet), confidence lacking or performance concerns. We also have to remember that up until recently, he’s been considered a starter; one with electric stuff. Using him for 2 outs in that situation, was a complete waste of his talents. Is this club trying to ease Castro into the bullpen role? There seems to be little reason for that. He has the confidence, the stuff and, thanks to his starter upbringing, the stamina to come back out for another inning. And, at this moment, as young as he is, he may be pushing the label as the best arm in the bullpen. He’s the hot hand. Experience aside, Castro appears a more effective option than the other two.
It is understandable why one may feel more comfortable with the known commodity of Loup/ Cecil. We know they can be successful. But, Castro is showing more and more that he is approaching the same territory.
We know Gibby has been criticized for his bullpen management in the past. This is nothing new. But, perhaps, if he had shown the faith that we’ve been hearing about for a while now, last night’s game may have ended differently. As it was, Loup and Cecil came in and coughed up the lead and had to be bailed out by a lock down performance by Roberto Osuna. In the early goings (I know it is the 2nd game), including Spring Training, the young kids are looking more and more like better options. It certainly appears that the outcome of the Wednesday’s game may have been different if John Gibbons had stuck with Miguel Castro.