Ed. Note: Fully aware that this matchup might look very different in a couple hours with the very real possibility that one of the parties is traded before it comes to fruition. - TB
Dateline: January 19th, 2017. The Marlins have made a deal with the Cincinnati Reds, acquiring RHP Dan Straily in exchange for pitching prospects RHP Luis Castillo, RHP Austin Brice and OF Isaiah White.
The deal was largely panned among Marlins fans at the time. Castillo had demonstrated a repeated ability to strike batters out while simultaneously shrinking his walk rate. Given that, Castillo had improved considerably as a prospect since being acquired in a summer deal the previous season from the San Francisco Giants for Casey McGehee in 2015, so it was somewhat of a surprise in 2016 when he was included as a part of the package that landed Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea from the San Diego Padres (the Marlins also parting with Jarred Cosar, Carter Capps and Josh Naylor in the deal).
You may recall that Rea only lasted a single start for the Fish before it was apparent that he was hurt from the get-go, and subsequently the league forced the Padres to undo a portion of the trade, returning Castillo to the Marlins in the process. Disaster averted, or so we thought. During the 2016 off-season, the Marlins went out of their way to say that they liked Castillo as a potential part of the future and were glad to have him back.
Surprise again! Not long after, the Marlins parted with Castillo a second time, this time for good, as the more seasoned (and proven) Dan Straily came back in the return from the Reds.
Flash forward to June 23rd and the Reds have summoned Luis Castillo to help their beleaguered pitching staff. He’s done enough to stick around, posting a 4.05 ERA/4.44 FIP over seven starts. He’s been bit by the long ball with seven bombs given up over that span, but he’s also striking out people left and right, with 45 strikeouts to this point including a nine K effort in his second start against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Before you get too much into the “boy, we sure could use that right about now,” let’s not forget that Dan Straily has been pretty good himself in his time with the Marlins, with a 3.84 ERA/4.37 FIP over 117 plus innings pitched, boasting 1.5 fWAR to date. He’s easily been the most consistent, reliable starter on the staff, in a year where starting pitching has been a constant chum-churn for the Fish with virtually every other player involved.
So, we’ve arrived at the present, where Luis Castillo will take the mound at Marlins Park for the first time ever, in circumstances many of us imagined differently. Barring a healthy scratch (because he might get traded), Dan Straily will oppose him.
This matchup might not get much national play, being a Sunday contest between two teams presumed out of contention, but on the local level, it is bound to be one of the more interesting duels in Miami this year.