The Runner Sports

Boost From The DL, Starlin Castro Picking Up Where He Left Off

The New York Yankees have had a roller coaster of a season. Starting with low expectations, the Yankees were not pegged to make any noise outside of the second Wild Card spot. However, after the first two months, the Bronx Bombers were looking like the best team in baseball. Then June happened. A nosedive that was mercifully killed thanks to the All-Star break, the Yankees have not quite recovered from it. At the moment, the Yankee sit 2.5 games back from the Apple Watch using Boston Red Sox for the top spot in the AL East. Other than a brief moment where the Yankees reclaimed the top spot in the division, the team has been chasing their rivals the entire second half. Though the second half has seen some good and bad runs, the team is finally starting to get healthy. A major player to return from the DL is Starlin Castro.

Earning his fourth All-Star selection in his career, Starlin Castro was having his best season since 2014. After displaying unprecedented power in his first season in pinstripes (a career high 20 home runs), Castro was backing up his 2016 with a great 2017. Before being placed on the DL (for the first time), Castro was batting .313 with 12 home runs and a .835 OPS through June 26. Castro would be out of action until July 15, but then found himself back on the DL shortly after. While Ronald Torreyes has been a wonderful surprise (batting .295 in 98 games) as the backup for both Castro and Didi Gregorius, the Yankees were missing Castro.

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Not So Bright

Despite Starlin Castro not being in the lineup for some parts of this season, the Yankees’ offense has been able to carry the load. That is again thanks to Torreyes for his stellar work filling in for Castro. During Castro’s two DL stints, the Yankees averaged 5.2 (first DL stint) and 4.9 (second DL stint) runs per game. Many teams would take that type of offensive production with a Castro type hitter in the lineup. Though the Yankees had a .500 record with Castro on the DL, the offense was not the issue. Starlin Castro would not fix the bullpen collapses.

However, before Castro hit the DL, the Yankees’ offense was a little bit better. Averaging 5.6 runs per game, the Yankees also saw more success in the most important statistic: wins. As I said, Castro’s absence was not as earth shattering as Aaron Judge’s post-All-Star break slump. But, the offense does click a bit better when he is in there. While Torreyes has been brilliant thus far, he does not bring the same presence to the plate as Castro does.

Starlin Castro Lighting Up the Sky

Since returning from the DL, Starlin Castro has started nine games out of the 10 he has played. In those 10 games, Castro has picked up exactly where he left off before his first injury. Batting .359 with 9 RBIs since his return, Castro has been a factor in the Yankees’ lineup. On Monday, Castro hit the go-ahead home run to help the Yankees pick up a game on the Red Sox. A returning Matt Holliday helps as well (hitting two home runs against the Red Sox over the weekend), but Castro brings his impact to the field too.

While there is a measurable statistic for comfort, it is clear that Didi Gregorius enjoys having Castro back as his middle infield partner. After Monday’s win, Gregorius said, “It’s always fun. We always talk crap to each other during the games to keep each other loose. For me, that’s important, to try and enjoy the game with all the ups and downs.” That quote, from the New York Daily News, displays how much chemistry (and how important it is) there is between Gregorius and Castro. It is clear that both of them enjoy having the other on the opposite side of the field.

More Relief For Judge

Part of the reason why the Yankees’ felt the impact of Judge’s slump so much was that there were two key pieces to the lineup that were on the DL. Matt Holliday and Starlin Castro being on the DL at the same time was a killer for the Bronx Bombers. Even with the acquisition of Todd Frazier, the lineup was missing two hitters who could supply average along with some power. While Holliday provides more power than Castro, Castro has come up big for the Yankees during the 2017 season. In situations where there are two outs and runners in scoring position, Castro has driven in 15 runners. During innings 7-9, Castro is batting .314/.351/.448.

As the lone player on the Yankees with an average above .300, Castro is a hitting threat that can be plugged into the three or four hole. During the season, the four spot has been the best place for Starlin Castro. Batting .326/.361/.438, sliding him back into that spot in the order can help alleviate pressure from Judge. While 8 of his 13 home runs have come from the fifth spot, Castro’s batting presence could do wonders for the lineup. The biggest problem with Judge was his strikeouts. Castro is more likely to put the bat on the ball to force action to happen.

Look To The Stars

As I write this article, the Yankees game is in a weather delay (have since resumed). Meanwhile, the Boston Red Sox are playing the Toronto Blue Jays. With a win (lead Orioles at time of publishing) and a Boston loss (tied in 13th at time of posting), the Yankees can wake up tomorrow 1.5 games back of the AL East title. Though I will still firmly give the edge to the Red Sox, the Yankees have a chance. With the majority of September still left to play, there is a very realistic chance that the Yankees can catch and surpass their rivals. Starlin Castro will go a long way in making that happen. If he can remain healthy for the rest of the season, then that lineup becomes a lot more fierce in October. As John Sterling says when Castro hits a home run, “Star-light, star-bright… Starlin is a darlin’.”

Side Note

I want to send special congratulations to my former high school teammate Austin Hays. Hays, who is the second best prospect in the Baltimore Orioles organization, was called up to the MLB club today. Congratulations my friend! I will root for you on Thursday.

Griffin Fuller
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Griffin Fuller

Former Division 1 pitcher at Stetson University with an immense passion for the game of baseball. Grew up playing baseball from the age of 3. Student of the game of baseball in every aspect.Located out of Debary, Florida.
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Griffin Fuller
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