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What kind of voodoo magic is this pitch?

October 9, 2019

First, Charlie Morton baffled us with his pitch movement in Game 3 of the American League Division Series on Monday. On Tuesday night, it was teammate Diego Castillo's turn.

First, Charlie Morton baffled us with his pitch movement in Game 3 of the American League Division Series on Monday. On Tuesday night, it was teammate Diego Castillo's turn.

Castillo threw an 0-2, 98.8 mph sinker that completely flummoxed the Astros' José Altuve in the first inning of Game 4, striking out the six-time All-Star and 2017 AL MVP Award winner. The pitch moved horizontally and low to the right-handed Altuve, and he swung just as the pitch danced inside.

In the regular season, Castillo's average of 98.2 mph on 2-seamers/sinkers ranked third in MLB (minimum 100 thrown). The pitch had a spin rate of 2,206 rpm and a horizontal movement of 18.7 inches. During the season, Castillo averaged 16.2 inches, or just above average (based on 2-seamers/sinkers of similar velocity). But 18.7 inches, as an average, would have ranked 8th in MLB (minimum 100 thrown).

However you slice it, the pitch was completely nasty. Castillo struck out three and walked one over 1 2/3 scoreless innings in the Rays' 4-1 win. He allowed just one hit.

"He's been one of our best here over the last six, eight weeks," said Rays skipper Kevin Cash. "And really impressive for a young pitcher to go out in that environment. We were just talking about it before I came in here. Set the tone and get in the strike zone really quick.

"Diego, his stuff is tremendous, kind of harnessing it in the strike zone. That's the only concern you have, is he going to be able to find it? Our fans were amazing. That can pump you up and sometimes work against you, get you over pumped. But Diego kind of controlled the moment really, really well and set the tone for us."