The Houston Astros dropped Game 2 of the ALCS, after an abysmal first two innings from Luis Garcia, who excited with right-knee discomfort, and Jake Odorizzi, who entered play with a 13-minute delay due to his warmup.
Both pitchers surrendered grand slams to the Boston Red Sox (first team to hit two in a postseason game), as the Astros’ late-game slugging couldn’t put them ahead. Their 9-5 loss tied the series at one-a-piece, with an off day slated for Sunday.
The Astros’ order is no mystery though, as there are All-Star caliber players one through seven along with a stable platoon in centerfield between Chas McCormick and Jake Meyers. Behind the dish squats Martin Maldonado, who has started every postseason game in 2021.
Jason Castro was signed as a left-handed hitting platoon option. But with that not being utilized consistently during the regular season, we are seeing the same in the postseason.
The left-hander took over for Maldonado in the seventh inning, as he grabbed two plate appearances, reaching base both times. .
Jason Castro continues to display clutch numbers later into games, but should he start in either Game 3 or Game 4?
This postseason, Maldonado has hit 1-for-19 with his only knock being a single. The right-hander has never been known for his bat, while targeted for defense and leadership behind the dish, but it could be time to pass along a start to Castro in Boston.
The Red Sox could likely go to right-hander Nick Pivetta and left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez for Games 3 and 4, as reported by Ian Browne of MLB.com. This is the easiest spot for the Astros to utilize their platoon and take a night off of Maldonado’s knees.
Even with the day off, adding Castro’s left-handed bat just makes the Astros’ lineup even tougher for three-batter minimum matchups. The catcher has only three plate appearances this October, accounting for a home run and a walk.
Depending on when the Red Sox send either starter, Castro could fair against the right-handed Pivetta, while slashing .263/.392/.525 against right-handed pitchers during the regular season.
Even though Maldonado has caught Game 3 starter Jose Urquidy’s last four appearances, he could be more valuable for however the Astros go in Game 4, as a starter hasn’t been announced. Odorizzi was eyed as the Game 4 starter by manager Dusty Baker, before he was used in relief in Game 2.
With the series set to go at least five games as of Sunday, Castro starting one of the three in Boston adds complexity to the bottom half of the lineup and gives Maldonado an extra day off. The offense hasn’t been an issue, but with starting pitching taking key blows, more offensive reliability isn’t a bad thing.
If Castro remains as a bench option only for the ALCS, it is worth noting that in the left-handers last 24 plate appearances (includes postseason) he has six walks and seven hits.