Castillo tabbed as Rays' opener for G4 of ALDS

October 8th, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG -- While the attention was on the Rays’ offensive outburst in Monday afternoon's 10-3 win over the Astros in Game 3 of the American League Division Series, one of the underrated factors in the win was Tampa Bay’s ability to keep its bullpen fresh for tonight's Game 4.

Charlie Morton was able to get through five innings at Tropicana Field, and after the Rays broke it open with a four-run fourth inning, manager Kevin Cash was able to ease his bullpen into action.

That proved to be important, as Tampa Bay will start on Tuesday and plans to employ a bullpen day. Houston will start eight-time All-Star Justin Verlander.

“We’ll start with Diego,” Cash said. “From there, depends kind of where we land in the batting order. But with the performance from Charlie and the rest of the guys, Oliver Drake, super efficient today with his two innings, able to bounce back. We’re capable of multiple innings from a lot of the guys in the bullpen.”

A lot of the pitching decisions will depend on how Castillo fares. If the right-hander gets through two scoreless innings, the Rays could go with -- who has yet to pitch in the postseason -- or to provide length.

Chirinos had success against the Astros earlier in the season, allowing just one run in seven innings in a 3-1 win on March 31. But the right-hander was limited to 6 2/3 innings in three September appearances after missing more than a month with right middle finger inflammation.

Some decisions will also depend on the score and the ideal matchup. But as Cash alluded to, Tampa Bay should be in an all-hands-on-deck approach. Closer Emilio Pagán can provide multiple innings, as can top setup man Nick Anderson.

“We have to prepare for their whole staff anyway,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said. “The Rays have a very effective way of getting through 27 outs. You have to face somebody different seems like every inning or every at-bat. You give hitters different looks every at-bat, it gets more and more difficult to settle in.”

As the Rays prepare to empty the bullpen in Game 4, Morton could be a relief option on Thursday in Game 5 (if necessary). That would be Morton’s scheduled bullpen day, which would allow him to come in and record a few critical outs, if needed.

But the Rays will have to get through Verlander and the Astros before considering Thursday’s plans. Because of Morton's ability to get through five innings on Monday, Tampa Bay should be at full strength.

“Given how we’re going to go to a bullpen day tomorrow, we needed as much as possible from him,” Cash said. “That extra inning, that fifth inning really helped us out.”