If the Mets have a weak spot on their roster heading into the 2021 season, it is most certainly the bullpen. While there is hope that Edwin Diaz returns to his 2018/2020 self, as well as optimism surrounding the newly signed Trevor May, there are a lot of questions about the relief corps. Seth Lugo’s recent surgery only adds to the uncertainty, but if Miguel Castro could begin to put it together, the bullpen would feel like less of a giant question mark.
Castro came over to the Mets in a last-minute deal at the 2020 trade deadline for prospect Kevin Smith. The right-handed relief pitcher was in the middle of his most effective season when he was acquired, having increased his strikeout rate to a career high (13.8%) and decreased his walk rate to a career low (2.9%). While the strikeout rate continued once he came to Queens, increasing to 14.0%, the walk rate ballooned up to 8.0% in his nine innings pitched for the Mets.
Castro, only 26 years old, made his big league debut for the Blue Jays in 2015, but after just 17.2 innings, was part of the midseason trade that sent Jose Reyes et al. to Colorado in exchange for Troy Tulowitski and former Met LaTroy Hawkins. Castro remained on the Rockies through the start of the 2017 season, when he was traded to Baltimore for a player to be named later.
Castro mixes a slider and changeup with a sinking fastball. His slider was his best pitch in 2020, good for a 48.3% whiff rate and resulting in just one extra base hit. In 2019, his changeup was more effective, though he threw both at roughly the same rate across both seasons. His fastball doesn’t induce a lot of swings and misses, and when it is hit, is hit with authority.
So far this spring, Castro has impressed the Mets with his performance. In four innings pitched, Castro has struck out four, walked one, and hasn’t given up a hit yet. With both Jeurys Familia and Dellin Betances having rough starts to their spring, Castro looks like one of the more impactful arms the Mets will have in their Opening Day bullpen. If Castro can improve his control and limit damage with his sinker, he could be one of the more impressive acquisitions of Brodie Van Wagenen’s tenure as general manager, alongside J.D. Davis.
That said, Castro would be an ideal seventh or eighth man in the bullpen; an arm with potential, but not one that will need to be put into high leverage situations before showing that he can handle it. However, the Mets’ lack of bullpen moves this offseason, coupled with Lugo’s injury and the aforementioned ineffectiveness of Familia and Betances, means that Castro is likely the third or fourth reliever on the depth chart. While we can hope that Castro is up to the challenge, it isn’t very wise of the Mets to put him in that position.