Daniel Castano doesn’t fit the profile of the prototypical starting pitcher seen in MLB today. His fastball isn’t overpowering, averaging around 91 mph. He’s a crafty lefty, a 27-year-old who spent the past two seasons going up and down between the majors and Triple A when the Miami Marlins needed a spot starter or someone who could serve as a long reliever out of the bullpen.
And it’s precisely for that reason that his current run in the Marlins’ rotation has been intriguing to watch unfold.
In his latest outing on Saturday, he gave up three runs (just one earned run) over five-plus innings as the Marlins beat the Washington Nationals 5-3 at Nationals Park. Miami improves to 36-40 on the season, including 10-1 against the Nationals (29-51) to win the season series with eight games left on the schedule against Washington.
Castano only allowed four hits and two walks Saturday. A sloppy second inning from the defense behind him aided in bringing in two of the runs he allowed.
But Castano’s cutter and slider — along with a few four-seam fastballs, changeups and sinkers sprinkled in — kept the Nationals off balanced in key situations.
He induced a pair of double plays — first to Josh Bell in the first and then to Juan Soto in the third, with first baseman Jesus Aguilar coming up big on the second of those double plays with a quick grab on Soto’s grounder down the first-base line and a wide stretch to make the grab on the receiving end to complete the play.
Throwing errors from Jon Berti and Brian Anderson in the second inning played key roles in the Nationals’ putting up early runs. The misfires put Nelson Cruz at third base and Lane Thomas at second base with one out. Tres Barrera drove them both in with a two-out, two-strike single to left field and got to second on a wild throw from Bryan De La Cruz that tied the game at 2-2. Aguilar hit a two-run home run in the first to open scoring.
Miami re-took the lead in the fourth on an Avisail Garcia RBI fielder’s choice that scored Garrett Cooper, who led off the frame with a double and moved to third on an Aguilar groundout. A Miguel Rojas sacrifice fly in the fourth scored Nick Fortes, who had tripled, and a Garcia single in the seventh scored Aguilar to cap the Marlins’ scoring.
A Juan Soto solo home run to lead off the sixth ended Castano’s night on a sour note, but he overall held his own against another National League East opponent since being recalled two-and-a-half weeks ago. He previously held the Philadelphia Phillies scoreless over 6 2/3 innings on June 15 and kept the Mets to two runs over seven innings on June 26. Combined, that’s three earned runs in 18 2/3 innings — a 1.45 ERA — in three starts against division opponents.
Zach Pop, Anthony Bass, Steven Okert and Tanner Scott combined to throw four scoreless innings to cap the game, with Scott earning his ninth save in the process.