This is the best changeup in baseball, and it is not even close. It could be the best Money Pitch we have, too. Extraordinary command, plus vertical and horizontal movement, and an elite 26.6 pVal. With a 24.6 Zone% and 26.6 SwStr%, Castillo also added %% to his Whiff % (48.0) whilst also limiting hitters even more than 2018 by allowing only a .128 BA.
Unsurprisingly, Castillo’s four-seamer took a backseat to his changeup. Despite using it less, it actually served him better. It was more efficient and gave up half the HRs it did in 2018 (7). Castillo still needs to make improvements,especially in command as his four-seamer saw another spike in walks with a 13.0% BB%
Castillo’s slider, with its near-zero break and above-average drop, has been an almost netural pitch over the past two years. While batters didn’t hit it often, as its 19.9% SwStr rate, 37.7% O-Swing rate and .195 BAA show, he could only manage a 30.9% zone rate on the pitch, and gave up six home runs on it.
Castillo’s four-seamer was hit hard in 2018, with opposing batters putting up a .282 ISO to go along with a 24.1% HR/FB rate. Castillo began the year with a drop in velocity from 2017, but his velocity actually increased as the season went on. Outside of limiting home runs, Castillo has more room for improvement with his four-seamer, as his swinging-strike rate dropped to a below-average 7.9%. But Castillo still possesses elite velocity, and it’s reasonable to expect that his four-seamer will improve in 2019.
With a 52.8% chase rate, a 38.3% zone rate, and a 25.9% swinging-strike rate, Castillo’s changeup is a true Money Pitch and a thing of beauty. Opposing batters hit .200 with a .130 ISO against the changeup despite a 19.2% HR/FB rate. Limiting home runs would further improve Castillo’s already elite pitch. With 105 strikeouts coming by way of his changeup in 2018, any further improvements may make this offering virtually unhittable.
Castillo’s two-seamer comes with significant arm-side action, yet it suffers from the same problems that most two-seamers face. Its 5.8% swinging-strike rate was worse than his four-seamer’s 7.9%, and despite a 57.6% ground-ball rate, the pitch still had a home run problem. Opposing batters hit .295 against Castillo’s two-seamer, and he would likely benefit by cutting back on its usage and throwing more offspeed pitches.
Castillo’s slider takes a clear back seat to his changeup, but it still shows promise. He added a small amount of horizontal movement to it in 2018, and it has a decent base to work off with a 39.3% zone rate and a 16.2% swinging-strike rate. Castillo’s next step with his slider is to increase its chase rate of 32.9% from 2018.