Blue Jays bullpen options: Checking in on Miguel Castro


The Blue Jays took a long overdue first step towards strengthening their bullpen this past Sunday with the announcement that Aaron Sanchez would be used as a late-inning reliever instead of a starter. Many Blue Jays fans are still hoping for a back-end addition from outside of the organization, making now as good a time as any to check on Miguel Castro, the young fireballer who could easily factor into the picture throughout August and September.

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Castro cracked the Blue Jays 25-man roster out of spring training, and although it’s easy to dismiss this now, he was widely viewed as the better short-term option than Roberto Osuna at that time. His incredible spring carried over into April for a brief while, but Castro would run into a wall and make just 13 appearances with the big club. His MLB stats through those 12.1 innings sit at a 4.38 ERA with a 1.70 WHIP and .307 opponent’s batting average.

It seemed that Castro was ready for a surge back to the mountaintop when he returned from an injury with High-A Dunedin, where he pitch 5.0 innings of no-hit ball, striking out seven while walking just one. His recent outings have been rocky, however, ballooning his ERA in AAA Buffalo to 5.17 with a WHIP of 2.04.

The most worrying piece of this admittedly small sample size is the walks surrendered by Castro. He’s allowed 12 free passes in just 15.1 innings at AAA, and despite covering those up with 19 strikeouts, that level of control simply won’t fly at the Major League level. Beginning with his stint in Dunedin there have been frequent reports of Castro hitting 100 MPH with ease, but the Minor Leagues are full of power arms that can’t spot fastballs.

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Perhaps the righty is prepared to turn a corner, though, and has pitched a scoreless inning in each of his past two outings. Last night in Buffalo, he closed out the ball game after another strong outing from Randy Wolf, allowing one hit and striking out one.

Adding the Miguel Castro of mid-March to this bullpen would make it truly formidable, but I’ll need to see Castro string 6-to-8 strong relief appearances together before I’m comfortable with him being recalled. Somewhere, poor Chad Jenkins is reading that requirement and cringing, but Castro’s dominant potential goes above and beyond any of the Jays current in-house bullpen options.

Keep in mind that Castro is just 20 years old, as well. Roberto Osuna’s season has raised the bar to an unreasonable level in some senses, because the vast majority of 20-year olds in Toronto’s system are still seen are far-off prospects. In Castro, though, there remains hope for the home stretch. It’s not time to trust him on an MLB mound again, not yet, but he has an opportunity to give Toronto an electric bullpen piece for Alex Anthopoulos’ favorite price. Free.

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