Despite the Pittsburgh Pirates offensive struggles, Rodolfo Castro is in the midst of a hot streak
The Pittsburgh Pirates offense has been bad in August. Very bad. There have been few positives at the plate this month, but one of those positives has been the return of Rodolfo Castro. Castro had been optioned to Indianapolis after a 21 game stint in June. After spending some time with the triple A club, Castro returned on August 9th to the big league team.
Since returning Castro has looked great at the plate. In 60 plate appearances since his return, Castro has put up a .309/.367/.582 line, which equates to a .949 OPS and 161 wRC+, the latter ranking 14th among National League hitters since his return. He’s collected 7 extra-base hits, including 3 home runs and 2 triples, giving him a .273 ISO over that span.
Castro has plus raw power. He crushed 12 home runs in triple-A this season, the same total he put up last season in Altoona. Last season he made headlines with 2 multi-homer games against the New York Mets on July 11th, and again on July 28th against the Brewers.
To this point in his career Castro is averaging 21 home runs across a full season, this despite seeing a small sample size between being called up and sent down from the big leagues. That power will play whether Castro ends up in the everyday second-base role or is just a utility infielder.
Castro’s biggest issues at the plate stem from his swing & miss issues along with struggles against the breaking ball. Last year Castro stuck out 29% of the time, but he’s only struck out 20% of the time over this hot streak. He’s also posted an 8.3% walk rate which, while league average, is an improvement on his career 6.4% walk rate prior to this stretch.
Castro’s issues against the breaking ball are still prevalent. He’s had a .291 wOBA against breaking pitches this year, similar to last year’s .292 wOBA, but he was able to go yard on a curveball against the Phillies. His stats against the fastball are much better, posting a .314 wOBA. He’s also seen improvement against offspeed pitches, collecting 4 extra-base hits and posting .372 wOBA, much better than his .123 wOBA last season.
Castro has come back soaring since his return on August 9th. Even with the national buzz about a cell phone mistake, Castro has shut out all the noise and went to work. He’s improved in important areas while displaying exciting power during a time when the Pirate offense has been completely lackluster. If Castro can keep this up he could have the second-base position locked down heading into 2023.