Someone had to take the spot with Kevin Gausman pushed back to Thursday night in Boston and Chris Tillman headed to Sarasota. Castro hasn’t thrown since working 4 2/3 scoreless innings Thursday night against the Royals.
“I was told about 10 or 15 minutes ago,” Castro said, via translator Ramon Alarcon, shortly after the clubhouse opened to the media at 3:10 p.m. “The manager called me to his office, talked to me about that, and obviously I feel very happy. And hopefully I can do a very good job tomorrow.”
Castro was stretched out to 65 pitches in his last appearance and there’s room in his arm to keep going.
“I hope it helps me,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it tomorrow with the same idea, with the same purpose, since the beginning of the season. Go out there, compete and help my team win.”
The rotation has an opening with Tillman on the disabled list. David Hess could fill it, but Castro knows he has a chance to work his way into the competition.
Not that he possesses the final word. He understands the pecking order.
“It’s really up to the manager,” he said. “He’s giving me this opportunity and I’m going to try to take advantage of the opportunity and whatever they decide moving forward, I’ll be fine. My job is to go out there and pitch.”
Castro’s only start came on Sept. 30, 2017 against the Rays at Tropicana Field. He allowed three runs and six hits in 3 1/3 innings to conclude a miserable final month, when he posted a 7.04 ERA and 1.826 WHIP in eight games.
The Orioles were receptive to the idea of making him a starter in spring training, but he registered a 6.39 ERA and 1.58 WHIP in four games (three starts) covering 12 2/3 innings. His body didn’t respond favorably to the change in routine after he reported with soreness in his knees and back, but he’s in a different place now after six weeks - and not just Baltimore instead of Sarasota.
“It’s really not up to me. It’s the manager’s decision. I just want to go out there, help my team and pitch,” he said.
“I feel great right now physically and mentally. The whole idea is to help my team with all of my pitches and try to get a win tomorrow.”
Doing so could give the Orioles a much tougher decision regarding Tillman’s replacement. At the least, Castro could be in line for more opportunities to impress away from the bullpen where he’s gone 1-1 with a 3.55 ERA and 1.34 WHIP in 15 games over 25 1/3 innings.
“We wouldn’t (just) be giving it to him,” said manager Buck Showalter. “He deserves it. He’s earned it and he’s also stretched out with pitches and everything to present himself as a starter. I don’t know if we’d ever be in a better position to do that than we are now with his background. I think he’s got one extra day (of rest), provided he doesn’t have to pitch tonight in the 16th inning.
“David wasn’t able to pitch. He would have been a candidate, too. I’m hoping Miguel takes the opportunity and runs with it. It’s a tough situation, 12:35 games, weather kind of iffy. But I know Miguel, he’s going to look at it as a great opportunity. But he was doing a nice and needed job out of the bullpen. But also, if we get deeper in our games from a starting standpoint, our need for what Miguel brings won’t be as much.”
Castro will be the eighth Oriole to make a start this season. He’s done it in the minors and the Orioles believe he’s equipped to handle the role in the majors.
“We got some things that made us kind of go, ‘Maybe he could,’” Showalter said. “At one point he was and they kind of force-fed him as a closer in Toronto. I’m sure they had great reasons for it and I can see why. At some point all along we were hoping he’d be able to get back to that. Initially, it was more about the upside of him.
“Last year, he presented himself in some longer roles that made us think about it, thinking about getting back to that. He’s going to have to defend himself against left-handed hitters and hold runners, do all the things that starters have to do to maintain a good outing. But the changeup, I think, should play better as a starter as he gets more feel for it. Which is going to be big for him. They have seven left-handed hitters, five of which are switch, so you’re going to see that at the major league level.”