Blue Jays: Anthony Castro turning heads in the bullpen this season
The Toronto Blue Jays were very active on the free-agent market this past off-season, signing George Springer to the largest financial contract in the franchise’s history while also acquiring Marcus Semien, Tyler Chatwood, Robbie Ray, and Kirby Yates (before he went on the injured list). The Blue Jays also signed a few players to minor league contracts and took on a few players who were designated for assignment (DFA), one of whom could turn into one of the best relievers in the bullpen this season.
Designated for assignment this off-season by the Detroit Tigers, Anthony Castro was picked up by the Blue Jays on December 7th, 2020. While the Jays would also DFA him a month later, the right-hander would sneak through waivers and eventually join the Blue Jays for Spring Training as a non-roster invite. In ten appearances, Castro would craft a 1.93 ERA over 9.1 innings with 15 strikeouts with one walk and two earned runs.
While the Venezuelan native would not make the Opening Day roster, Castro would be called up to the Blue Jays bullpen two weeks later and has been impressive so far this season.
The Jays pitching corps has been ravaged by injuries early in the campaign, with the likes of Chatwood, Jordan Romano, Julian Merryweather, Ross Stripling, Nate Pearson, T.J. Zeuch, and Tom Hatch all spending time on the injured list (with some currently still injured). With these injuries, Castro was added to the 40 man roster on April 14th and has been stellar in the bullpen ever since.
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In five games and 6.0 innings, Castro has yet to allow an earned run while striking out seven and crafting a 0.50 WHIP over three hits and no walks. The right-hander also earned his first career save against the Boston Red Sox on April 21 and hasn’t given up a hit in his last three appearances. As per Statcast, Castro’s arsenal features just two pitches, a four-seam fastball in the 92-94 MPH range, and a slider/breaking ball that he uses almost twice as much as his fastball.
In every situation Castro has been put in this season he has performed well, executing his pitches and looking like he belongs on the roster. The sample size has been small given that he has only been on the roster for eleven days but he’s passed every test put in front of him and looks comfortable on the mound, facing some tough opponents without surrendering a run.
For example, in yesterday’s game against the Rays, Castro entered the seventh inning and was tasked with following starter Robbie Ray after he gave up a two-run home run an inning prior, tying the game at 3-3. The right-hander would come in and get Brett Phillips to ground out while striking out Willy Adames, Randy Arozarena, and Yandy Diaz, getting the elusive “four outs in an inning” due to a slider that got away from catcher Alejandro Kirk and allowed Diaz to get to first (scored a wild pitch to Castro). His breaking ball was absolutely filthy and his fastball was also working well, as he didn’t throw more than four pitches to any of the batter’s he faced.
While he wasn’t the flashiest waiver pickup at the time and the sample size is small given that it’s only April, Anthony Castro is proving to be a solid pickup for the team and a key reliever in the Blue Jays bullpen. The organization may have to rethink who will be sent to the alternate site when Merryweather, Zeuch, and Stripling are healthy in order to keep Castro on the roster.