Wednesday’s game ran without much fanfare. Kyle Hendricks had trouble keeping the ball in play. Frank Schwindel had two hits. A teaser rally fell just short.
And, the Cubs might be another catcher short, again. Robinson Chirinos left with what seemed to be an oblique problem [VIDEO], with Nick Martini replacing him mid at-bat.
If Chirinos has any sort of an oblique problem, he might well be finished for the season. If he is out, who gets the next look?
Step one was easy. The Iowa Cubs roster has four catchers. The one with MLB service time this season is Taylor Gushue, but he is on the Injured List. Tennessee catchers Tyler Payne and Caleb Knight were added to the roster this week, with Gushue placed on the IL. The fourth option, and the starter on Tuesday for Iowa, is Erick Castillo.
From Araure, Venezuela, Castillo has been in the Cubs pipeline since 2012. Despite being in the Cubs system that long, Castillo has only managed six home runs. Four were in Double-A, over five seasons. Including this season, his Triple-A and Double-A OPS are both under .580 for his career. Offense is not his game. Nonetheless, he’s popular with pitchers, could have a future career in coaching, and is solid defensively, per Arizona Phil.
I doubt there would be any concern on losing Castillo via free agency in the off-season, and he might well appreciate 10 days of MLB service time. He could be an easy recruit to bring back to the Cubs on a successor contract, as he’s stayed before with the option to bolt.
If the Cubs do have an interest in Castillo coaching, either in the DSL or stateside, having him in uniform for the trip into St. Louis might be useful for him in relating to players in the future. Adding Castillo seems more useful than trying to (needlessly) roll with two catchers for the final 10 games. He’s certainly more familiar with the parent club pitchers than Knight or Payne, who might have more mid-term blowback if they leave the organization in a month or a year, due to being called up and later released.
Now, the season is about getting through to the finish, and assessing players regarding the 40-man roster. Give Castillo one or two starts in Pittsburgh, hope he manages a hit, and get on with the off-season. It sucks if Chirinos is injured, but this gives Castillo a shot he wouldn’t have otherwise had.
I’m planning on quite a few offseason prospect pieces. They might be along the lines of this, with a few more stories sprinkled in. Erick Castillo for six or eight at-bats in September and October would fit in quite well with the rest of the post-July/backup catcher dual nightmares of 2021.