What’s Most Likely To Happen?
Two options being weighed here. On the one hand, you have Dan Straily reproducing his 2016 value. On the other, you have Luis Castillo turning into an above average starting pitcher. If the Marlins just traded away a guy that will become a No. 1 or No. 2 caliber arm in the next few years for a guy with a ceiling as low as Straily’s, then it was an unquestionably poor move. If last year was an outlier for Straily, same story obviously. But is that likely?
Well, maybe. Very little was known about Castillo until last season, to the point that most fans probably knew more about Austin Brice, the other pitcher that went in the deal. Plenty is known about him now though, as plenty of scouts have raved about his velocity and early success since being converted to a starting pitcher. Success that led to his being valued as highly as the No. 5 prospect in the Marlins system at the time of the trade. But this is also a guy that didn’t even make the ESPN Top 100 prospect list heading into 2016, and more to the point, wasn’t even regarded as an organizational Top 10 guy at that time. These estimations fluctuate wildly, and often not based on a huge amount of track record; we’re talking 14 IP of AA experience here.
Straily, as noted, just had a career best season- slightly better than his breakout campaign in 2013. Those performances do bookend two years of inconsistency and injury, however, and there were a couple statistical red flags that went along with last year’s success. For one, his FIP came in at 4.88, over a full point higher than that 3.76 ERA. He also discovered about the only way to get mentioned in the same sentence as Max Scherzer while having it be a bad thing- the pair tied for the NL lead in HRs allowed with 31.
Still, the slight edge might go to Straily here. The Marlins were a better defensive group than the Reds in 2016, and that’s even with an underperforming Adeiny Hechavarria and an underpresent Dee Gordon. Also, if you’re a fan of park factors, only three stadiums in baseball had a more favorable HR rate for hitters than Great American Ballpark. Only four were worse for a hitter than Marlins Park. So there’s arguably even grounds for expecting improvement, though I think holding serve is the most realistic scenario.