Would a Veteran Catcher Answer Some of the Houston Astros’ Pitching Issues?
There is no doubting Jason Castro’s ability as a ball-player. He has a powerful, fluid batting motion. He has strong athleticism, and his snap-reactions behind the plate are impressive. His arm is capable of gunning down anyone attempting to steal a base on him. The only question that remains is can he call a ball game?
The struggles of the Houston Astros pitchers have been well-documented this season, particularly when they get into tight spots and have trouble digging their way out. How much of the blame lies upon the shoulders of the young pitching staff and how much can be directed towards the game-calling from the catcher?
Veteran catcher and pitcher tandems make the game look simple, largely because they know how to work around a count and analyze each situation based on a number of factors. They are aware of each batter’s strengths and weaknesses. They know batting orders and team tendencies. They can dominate a lineup, and they certainly know how not to break a sweat and can escape from tight situations. When Houston pitchers begin to fall behind this season, they look more as though they are going to fall deeper rather than work their way out to safety.
Jason Castro is still very young and shows extreme promise. At this point in the Astros’ growth, they need to look at each position and figure out whether they can afford to continue developing everyone or if perhaps the clubhouse needs an element of maturity. The Astros have one of the premier farm development systems in the majors with their minor teams dominating their leagues. The future, of course, looks bright for the Astros, but maybe a veteran catcher, who knows the American League, could provide a useful spark to help with the maturation.