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Reviewing Daniel Castano’s first 2021 start

Castano went 5 strong innings against the Giants on Friday.

Miami Marlins starting pitcher Daniel Castano delivers a pitch in the 1st inning against the San Francisco Giants at loanDepot park. Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

MIAMI, Fla.—Daniel Castano’s contributions to the 2020 Miami Marlins were invaluable, but sustainable? Not necessarily. Buoying back and forth last summer between the active roster and the taxi squad, Castano led all left-handed pitchers on the club in innings pitched while posting a 3.03 earned run average. He helped patch together a starting rotation that was depleted by COVID and even worked brilliantly out of the bullpen in the regular season finale.

Despite that, the contact-oriented 26-year-old did not have a role to play in October. He did not make the Marlins’ 2021 Opening Day roster, either. Under “normal” circumstances, in this organization which has a wealth of pitching talent, he wasn’t in line for substantial playing time.

But, as they always do, injuries arise. Depth is critical. On Friday evening, Castano was called upon to start the game against the San Francisco Giants, the Marlins’ first non-AL/NL East opponent since 2019. The Giants came into town playing well and demonstrating a knack for wearing down pitchers with their tenacity.

Before the game, manager Don Mattingly said that facing an opponent they haven’t seen in a while requires a different type of preparation. They would have to keep their approach the same, however, and remain competitive to start the series off on the right note and set the tone going forward.

Daniel Castano on Friday vs. Giants: 5 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 2 BB, 0 K

Daniel Castano #20 of the Miami Marlins delivers a pitch in the second inning against the San Francisco Giants at loanDepot park on April 16, 2021 in Miami, Florida. All players are wearing the number 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson Day. Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Castano came out with force against the Giants hitters. He retired the first three batters on 14 pitches and each of the four fastballs he threw were at least 91 MPH, two miles per hour above his average fastball velocity in 2020.

He was able to work around a leadoff walk and subsequent two-base throwing error on a pick-off attempt in the second inning. He only allowed one other walk in his five innings of work.

The only run Castano allowed came in the fourth inning. After he missed with three sliders to the leadoff man, Castano came back with a fastball that Mike Yastrzemski sent out to right field for a double. Evan Longoria then took advantage of a slider that caught too much of the plate, singling to left field and driving in the game’s first run. Castano proceeded to retire the next three hitters and get himself out of the inning.

Looking back to his seven appearances in 2020, Castano averaged called and swinging strikes 21.7% of the time (a far cry from the MLB average of approximately 30 CSW%). On Friday evening, he recorded two whiffs and 13 called strikes, totaling 20% across his five innings. Although he didn’t record a strikeout, Castano was still able to be effective. He collected nine groundouts over five innings of work, allowing three hits and walking two batters.

When his spot came around in the bottom of the fifth inning with a runner in scoring position and the chance to take the lead, Castano was removed for a pinch hitter. In total, Castano threw 47 of his 74 pitches for strikes.

After the game, he expressed his excitement to return to the mound and compete with his team. He noted that he had spent the offseason working hard to prepare because whenever he got the call, he wanted to be ready.

Castano displayed poise on the mound whenever the game became tense. He avoided trouble after walks and remained calm after the errant pickoff attempt. Even when he allowed the run in the fourth inning, he was able to work his way out of the jam without allowing further damage.

With Sixto Sánchez and Elieser Hernandez still working their way back from injuries, Castano didn’t back down from Friday’s challenge and made his case for why he deserves the chance to take the ball again next week.