It takes a lot to impress Shania Twain. What New York Mets relief pitcher Miguel Castro did in 2021 surely had her dazzled. I mean, if she even knows who he or the Mets are.
Castro joined the club in 2020 via trade with the Baltimore Orioles. A not-so-memorable 9 innings and 4.00 ERA made him “filler” for the 2021 squad—or so I thought.
This wasn’t the case whatsoever. Castro pitched more innings than any other reliever this past year, totaling 70.1 frames. He wasn’t just eating up outs. Castro was effective, going 3-4 with a 3.45 ERA. He was one of Luis Rojas’ top options to turn to. As productive as he was, Castro could benefit from a reduced role in 2022.
Miguel Castro had an impressive 2021 with the Mets but reducing his role makes the team better
I do not oppose the idea of Castro pitching big innings for the Mets this coming season. He is capable of it but he shouldn’t be one of the first options. Castro fits in best as a bridge in the sixth inning. A role he had often for the club in 2021, it’s not the worst thing to see him enter games when the team is trailing rather than ahead.
The Mets can accomplish this quite simply. It starts by building a stronger bullpen where, by contrast, Castro is a less important part of the team’s plans.
By adding better late-inning relievers, Castro’s role will automatically reduce. He goes from the manager’s pet to a guy whose job involves keeping the game from getting out of control rather than maintaining a lead.
It’s all easier said than done. Building a strong bullpen is no easy task. There’s a lot of guessing.
As the 2021 season progressed, we did see Castro take on something more closely resembling my desired gig for him. On June 11, he earned his sixth hold of the season. He would only get three more all year long. We can blame the team’s second half collapse as one reason for this.
Castro can have an important role for the 2022 Mets. But let’s not kid ourselves. Wild at times (5.5 walks per nine last season), he remains a work in progress. Castro should enter next season as a front-end reliever. And if he does it all over again, maybe then we can talk about bigger frames and more leverage.
Imagine how impressed the Queen of Country Pop would be then.