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What Happened to Luis Castillo?

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In the 2020 shortened season, Castillo gave up 62 hits, 30 runs, 5 home-runs, and 24 walks in 70 innings pitched. Through 52.1 innings in 2021, Castillo has given up 70 hits, 50 runs, 8 home-runs, and 23 walks.

Not to mention, Castillo gave up less hits in 37 more innings pitched in his rookie season in 2017. So, what’s changed? How does someone go from being an all star and on the fringe of being a Cy Young candidate to being one of the worst pitchers in baseball?

Castillo’s bread and butter is a change up with a lot of movement to induce a lot of strikeouts or weak contact. According to baseballsavant.com, Castillo has had his whiff rate (how often a batter swings and misses a pitch) drop significantly. For example, in 2020, Castillo’s change up had a whiff rate of 40.1%, while in 2021 it dropped to 28.9%.

Why does this matter? Castillo is throwing more strikes this year instead of tailing his change up out of the zone. If you’re throwing more strikes and batters aren’t swinging and missing at your best pitch like they used to, you’re gonna get rocked.

Here’s where Castillo is at his best: starting his fastball up in the zone and throwing this change up.

Castillo is hopeful he can improve though, he said in a press conference after his most recent start against the Cubs.

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