A week or so ago, the woebegone Miami Marlins handed the baseball to lanky left-hander Jarlin Castro and sent him out for his first major league start against the first place (for the moment) New York Mets. Also don’t forget to check out these new comfy baseball cleats!
Castro responded with six no-hit innings before being lifted by manager Don Mattingly after 77 pitches. God forbid in this age of pitch limits and analytic baseball that the 25-year-old be left out there to see how far he could take the no-no.
Castro should have known that would happen. Mattingly has a track record in this regard, most memorably lifting Adam Conley four outs away from a no-hitter against Milwaukee after he had thrown 116 pitches. Wei-Yin Chen made it through seven no-hit innings against Seattle before the 100-pitch limit got him and Don Straily had 5 1/3 against the Mets but 93 pitches ended that bid. Castro was well short of the innings cutoff point but Mattingly was taking no chances with the youngster’s first major league start. The manager has rules.
Then, the other day, Castro made his next start against the offense-laden New York Yankees. This time, the no-hitter lasted only 4 1/3 innings, stretching his no-hit streak to 10-plus innings. He was lifted after allowing one hit in five innings.
So in two starts against the New York franchises, Castro logged 11 innings of one-hit, shutout baseball and gave a breath of life to a team whose roster has been shredded by a cost-conscious new ownership.
He is exactly the kind of young player the rebuilding Marlins need to restore their franchise, an effective pitcher with a compelling back story.
As a youngster, growing up in the Dominican Republic, Castro played soccer. He was 16, in his second year of baseball, when his baby sister 3-year-old Genesis Mabel, drowned. It scarred the young pitcher for life.
He has dedicated himself to her memory and thinks about the little girl each time he takes the mound. He pitches to help his family overcome the sadness of the day they lost little Genesis Mabel.
It took Castro eight years to reach the majors, a roller coaster ride through the low minors. At one point, the Marlins left him off their 40-man roster, making him available in baseball’s Rule 5 draft. No other team took a chance so Castro remained in the Marlins organization, gradually working his way up.
When he reached the majors last year, the Marlins sent him to the bullpen. He appeared in a team-high 68 games last season going 1-2 with a 4.73 earned run average. He asked for a chance to start this season but in spring training, the Marlins actually sent him to the minor league camp briefly before recalling him.
He was on the opening day roster and two airtight relief appearances led the pitching-poor Marlins to plug him into their starting rotation and the results have been outstanding, especially against the Mets and Yankees.
And each time out, he thinks of the little sister who never got to see him pitch.