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Filling the Green Void: Miguel Castro

With Green’s injury, how does Miguel Castro now fit into the bullpen?

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Chad Green has provided many impactful innings for Yankees as a reliever. After he went down with an injury requiring Tommy John surgery, the question now becomes how the Yankees fill his role. The answer to that question might be Miguel Castro. Miguel Castro was acquired in a rare all-New York trade from the Mets for Joely Rodriguez. Castro has always tantalized with his potential. However, that potential has often resulted in more average production in the real world. How does Castro fit in the Yankees’ bullpen after Green went down?

MLB: New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

This season, Miguel Castro has provided fairly good relief pitching for the Yankees, though in a fairly small sample size. Castro has only pitched 13.1 innings in 17 games, with a 3.38 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP. However, during the month of May, Castro has allowed three earned runs in five innings over the course of seven games, which has resulted in an 5.40 ERA for the month. With his recent performance, we can look at the advanced metrics to determine how much he can be trusted in high leverage spots. Due to the small sample size, all of the advanced metrics will be somewhat noisy, but we can still glean some information from them. Castro mainly uses three pitches: a sinker (40.9 percent), a slider (39.3 percent), and a changeup (19.8 percent).

Credit: Baseball Savant

A good place to start in analyzing Castro’s place in the bullpen is comparing Castro with the rest of the league. Those comparisons show somewhat of an odd story. On the one hand, hitters are not hitting Castro consistently hard with a hard hit percentage of 34.1 percent, good for the 63rd percentile. However, Castro also has a very high Barrel percentage, with 13.9 percent of his batted balls being hit very hard and with a very bad (for the Yankees) launch angle.

In addition, Miguel Castro has walked nine hitters in his limited playing time, good for the bottom fifth percentile of the league. This has resulted in a fairly horrible xwOBA (expected weighted on base average) of .369, good for the bottom 18 percent of the league. One consolation is that this high xwOBA seems to be an aberration for Castro, as his career average is .326.

Credit: Baseball Savant

Castro’s advanced metrics have not been great, with a batted ball profile that could be described as bad. It’s not all doom and gloom though, Castro still throws some incredibly impressive pitches. While Miguel Castro throws a very fast sinker, batters have been able to hit the pitch. This year, the sinker has an xwOBA of .537, with a hard hit percentage of 46.2 percent. Yeowch, those are some suboptimal metrics. Both the slider and changeup have better indicators. The slider does have excellent horizontal movement, which results in a xwOBA of .302 for this pitch. In addition, the changeup has good vertical and horizontal movement which results in a xwOBA of .282.

Credit: Baseball Savant

So, what does all of this mean? It might explain why Castro has been throwing the sinker less than any other time in his career. Though, with how hard players have been hitting his sinker, it might make sense for Castro to throw the changeup and slider even more than he already does. With Green’s injury, Castro is bound to play a larger role in the bullpen, but that might not be a great idea with his current pitch mix. The sinker has been hit so hard that Castro should throw the changeup and slider more to take advantage of his best pitches. If Castro does not change his pitch mix, then the Yankees might be in for a bumpy ride.