Closing Time: Miguel Castro
It only took Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons two games to remove Brett Cecil from the closing role. Gibbons told reporters prior to today’s game, that Cecil did not look sharp on Wednesday, when he blew a save opportunity only retiring one batter. Cecil did not appear to have his fastball working as he maxed out at only 88 MPH. Gibbons noted he informed Cecil he could expect to work the 7th or 8th inning in tonight’s ball game, during the rubber match against the Yankees.
Gibbons instead chose Miguel Castro to fill the closer role this evening. The 20 year old prospect out of the Dominican Republic, had not ever pitched a game above Single A ball prior to making the team out of spring training. The 7th best prospect starting the season for the Jays, Castro looked flawless in his first performance opening day, where he pitched 1.1 innings and closed out a Blue Jays 6-1 win over the New York Yankees. Castro hit as high as 97 MPH on the radar gun, while clocking a change at 81 MPH.
As promised, Gibbons brought Cecil in during the 8th inning with a 6-3 lead over the Yankees. Cecil lead of the inning against Mark Teixeira who he struck out on three pitches. He went curveball, fastball, fastball getting Teixeira looking. Cecil then got Chase Headley to fly out to right on the first pitch, walked Chris Young on five pitches, before retiring John Ryan Murphy with a swing and a miss on a curveball. Murphy had previously doubled twice in tonight’s game. It appeared as though Cecil relied more heavily on the curveball tonight, a pitch he has become more and more comfortable with over the last few years. Cecil only threw a curveball 6% of the time in 2011, but since then has made the pitch a prominent part of his arsenal, as he threw it 42% of the time last season. While Cecil was effective this evening, it should be known that he did throw a wild pitch, advancing Young to second base, prior to retiring Murphy.
True to his word Gibbons called Castro to the mound in the 9th. Castro faced Stephen Drew to lead off the 9th inning. He was able to get Drew to fly out to center to start the inning. He then gave Didi Gregorius absolutely nothing to work with, with a barrage of fastballs and change ups low and away, causing Gregorius to ground out weakly to second base. Castro would end the ballgame getting Jacoby Ellsbury to also ground out to second, giving the Blue Jays the series victory. It should be known that Castro also threw a wild pitch, but with no one on base.
Castro has great late movement on his pitches, and tonight showed he could throw the change up with a little more speed as he clocked it at 90 MPH. While Gibbons, may give the veteran Cecil the next chance for a save, keep an eye on Castro, who may ultimately take over the closer role for good when April showers bring May flowers.