Mets: Miguel Castro has the tools to become an impact reliever

The Mets‘ new people in charge, starting with owner Steve Cohen, president Sandy Alderson, and general manager Jared Porter, understand the importance of having a good bullpen. They already signed top reliever Trevor May and added some upside and upper-minors depth. Names like Sam McWilliams, Jacob Barnes, Jerry Blevins, and Trevor Hildenberger are now part of the organization and will fight for a spot.

Additionally, the Mets have Seth Lugo, Jeurys Familia, Dellin Betances (a reclamation project with high-reward potential), and Robert Gsellman in addition to closer Edwin Diaz. But they also have an interesting project in Miguel Castro.

Former Mets’ general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, not on the team anymore, traded pitching prospect Kevin Smith to the Orioles in exchange for Castro, to that point an inconsistent reliever with a big arm.

For a guy who can comfortably reach 98 mph with his sinker, Castro’s career numbers are quite underwhelming. He has a 4.29 ERA, but with mediocre 4.92 FIP and xFIP marks, and with only 7.44 K/9 and 4.67 BB/9, he hasn’t been exactly dominant.

The Mets’ righty had a career-high swinging-strike rate in 2020

However, 2020 brought an interesting development for the Mets’ hard-throwing righty. Yes, the sample size is small, but in 24.2 innings, he upped his K/9 to 13.86, enough to rank in the 90th percentile in K%. He increased his swinging strike percentage from 11.6 in 2019 to 13.5 in 2020, almost two percentage points.

He can have issues with talks, but if he maintains his bat-missing gains, Castro could be a weapon from the Mets’ bullpen. Pitching coach Jeremy Hefner will try to preach more of the same, but trying to play to his strengths.

In 2020, Castro’s slider had a 48.3 whiff rate, and his changeup had a 36.0 mark. Those are numbers you can certainly work with.

If the Mets can get Castro to throw strikes more consistently, he can improve the 4.01 ERA he had in 2020 and take another step forward in his game.