Even though Jason Castro has not had a dream comeback to the Astros in 2021 since he’s spent more time on the bench than on the field, he’s taken advantage of almost every opportunity he’s had off the bench, getting into games in the late innings.
That was the case on Thursday’s loss 3-2 against the Angels. After two strikeouts from closer Raisel Iglesias to Chas McCormick and Marwin González, Castro replaced starting catcher Martín Maldonado and delivered a clutch solo home run to close the gap 3-2. Unfortunately, José Sirí struck out to end the game.
But that has been a constant for him. Despite Castro having posted a .206/.325/.390 overall slash line across 162 plate appearances (59), he’s added the most value as a replacement hitter, as you’re gonna see below...
In 27 appearances at the plate as a substitute, Castro is hitting .391/.481/.652 this year (9-for-23), with three doubles, one home run, and five runs batted in. At least in averages, that's notably better than when he starts: .168/.293/.336 with 43 strikeouts across 35 games.
Exclusively taking into account what Castro has done as a pinch hitter, he’s 7-for-17 this year in that scenario with two doubles, one four-bagger, five ribbies, three scored runs, and four walks. All of this goes along with a .412/.524/.706 slash line.
Even better, Baseball-Reference shows us a late and close stat, which gives us a player’s numbers in PA’s in the seventh inning or later with the batting team tied, ahead by one, or the tying run at least on deck. In that kind of environment, Castro has been as good as anyone in baseball: 14-for-39, five doubles, two home runs, seven RBIs, six walks, and a .359/.457/.641/1.098 line.
As if it wasn’t enough, Castro’s biggest portion of offensive playing time has come between innings seven and nine. And there’s a reason why...
Moving forward and getting closer to the postseason, Castro could end up being a pretty valuable hitting piece for the Astros available to come off the bench. If Jason wants to revisit his good memories as an Astro from 2010 to 2016, this is the perfect time.