Written by Michael Simione – @SpStreamer
On January 19, 2017 the Marlins traded Luis Castillo and two others to the Cincinnati Reds for Dan Straily. Later that year Castillo made his debut against the Nationals and finished the year going 3-7 with a 3.12 ERA in 15 starts. This propelled him into becoming a big fantasy sleeper heading into 2018. But he faltered early in the season and had a 5.49 ERA after the first half of the season. Castillo did turn it around posting a 2.44 ERA in the second half, leading to a lot of questions. When will he put it all together? Is he just a slow starter? Or is he just maybe a warm weather type of pitcher? Well this year it looks like a lot of this questions have been answered.
Through 9 starts Luis Castillo is 4-1 with a 11.18 K/9, 1.76 ERA, 2.75 FIP, 3.08 xFIP, and 3.48 SIERA. So, what has sparked this hot start, and can he sustain it? The first thing Castillo did was up the usage of the best pitch in his repertoire. He has bumped his changeup usage from 26.3% to 32.5% this year. It is posting a positive pitch value of 12.0, which leads the league. His changeup is also posting a ridiculous 55.9 Whiff% which is 12% higher than last year.
His placement on his changeup is exactly what you want to see. Locating it down and away is key here. He throws his fastballs high and tight and then fools them with low and away. This is why he is using his changeup so much more as it is clearly working.
His underlying numbers are just off the charts. This is everything you want to see in a pitcher on your fantasy team:
|Hard Hit %||83rd percentile|
|Exit Velocity||93rd percentile|
|CSW Rate||7th overall|
There Is One Thing Though…
Luis Castillo has one issue, and only time will tell if we should worry. He has the 10th worst BB% in the league at 10.9%. If you watch Castillo when he throws, he does throw a little from the side. The more up and down you are the more control you will have. So, if his arm slot stays a little off the side, control could become a problem.
Now I don’t think Castillo will be a sub 2 ERA pitcher, no one does. Although his LOB% is a little high, his BABIP isn’t too far off from his average. That being said we can see a low to sub 3 ERA season from him. His stuff is just way too good and if he improves his control, he has nothing standing in his way.