Miguel Castro would have needed to be a mudder to make today’s start for the Orioles.
Down the stretch they slosh ...
The Orioles’ refusal to pitch David Hess on short rest again created an opportunity for Castro to pop into the rotation. But the weather intervened, Andrew Cashner was pushed back to early this afternoon and Castro was shoved back into the bullpen.
We’ll never know how he would have handled the weather and the Phillies, at least in a starting role. He’s the long man if Cashner is removed early. Maybe if more storms blanket the area after the game begins, which the Orioles tried to avoid last night with the tarp on the field more than an hour before the first drops fell.
So much for that idea.
Castro could get another chance with a vacancy in the rotation, though Hess is casting a large shadow - even without the sun. Castro has made 15 relief appearances this year and 54 with the Orioles since they acquired him from the Rockies on April 7, 2017 for a player to be named later who became minor league pitcher Jon Keller.
(Keller retired in spring training, which explains why I couldn’t find his stats for 2018. A combination of a bad shoulder and the desire to move onto the next phase of his life.)
Today was suposed to offer Castro’s second career start. He never shows much emotion during his interviews, the answers funneled through translater Ramón Alarcón, but he relayed how much he looked forward to the opportunity. He’ll take the ball under any circumstances, but this one would have been special.
Castro is trying to whittle his ERA since allowing four runs over 2 1/3 innings in a May 3 game in Anaheim. He tossed a scoreless inning on May 6 in Oakland and shut out the Royals Thursday night over 4 2/3. The 4.58 ERA, at its highest point of the season, is down to 3.55.
Check out the home and away splits. Castro has a 0.79 ERA in six games at Camden Yards, with only one earned run (two total) allowed in 11 1/3 innings. He’s surrendered nine runs and 15 hits and walked six batters in 14 innings on the road for a 5.79 ERA.
Right-handers are hitting .180 against Castro in his 15 appearances, but left-handers are batting .361 with 13 hits in 36 at-bats. In his career, right-handers have posted a .214 average and left-handers are hitting .306, so 2018 isn’t an aberration.
The Phillies’ lineup last night included five switch-hitters and two left-handed hitters. They would have presented a stern test for Castro.
Opponents are batting .184 (7-for-38) against Castro with runners in scoring position this season.
Castro is still waiting for his first appearance against the Phillies. Carlos Santana is the only player with any plate appearances, going 0-for-1 with an RBI, walk and strikeout.
Phillies right-hander Vince Velasquez, the Astros’ second-round pick in 2010 out of Garey (Cal.) High School, also will have to wait for his first opportunity against the Orioles. He’s been bumped today, with Nick Pivetta pushed back after the postponement.
Velasquez struck out 12 Giants over six innings in his last start. He’s averaging 11 per nine innings. The Orioles have a tendency to be vulnerable to the strikeout. Maybe they should just take their chances with Pivetta.
Velasquez did make a start against the Orioles in an exhibition game on March 16, 2017 and he tossed 3 2/3 hitless innings with four walks and six strikeouts. He walked the bases loaded in the first inning, but Chris Johnson flied out.
Johnson, the son of Triple-A Norfolk manager Ron Johnson, remains unsigned after working out at the free agent camp in Bradenton. He might have gotten some starts at third base if the Orioles re-signed him.
Anyway, it’s Cashner vs. Pivetta today with first pitch now slated for 12:05 p.m. There must be a window. Castro has his face pressed against the one with the rotation on the other side.