Tigers shortstop Willi Castro left Saturday’s game in the second inning due to right shoulder soreness, and manager Lloyd McClendon told The Athletic’s Cody Stavenhagen and other reporters that Castro will be placed on the 10-day injured list. The placement will allow the Tigers to add a healthy player to the roster for today’s final game of the regular season schedule (barring more potential action on Monday, depending on what happens with the Cardinals’ playoff situation).
Castro seemed to tweak his shoulder during a swing, though he finished his plate appearance and even delivered an RBI single for what ended up being the winning run in a 4-3 Tigers victory over the Royals. Castro was replaced by a pinch-runner after his hit, bringing a premature end to an outstanding rookie season. After posting only a .624 OPS over 110 PA in 2019, Castro exploded to hit .349/.381/.550 with six homers over 140 plate appearances this season.
A .448 BABIP is undoubtedly a big contributor to Castro’s production, and his Statcast numbers reveal some mediocre hard-hit ball and exit velocity totals. That said, Castro’s 9.6% barrel rate is above-average (64th percentile) and his .365 xwOBA is respectably close to his .387 wOBA. There’s plenty here for the Tigers to like about the 23-year-old, who came to the Motor City in the trade deadline swap with the Indians in 2018 that saw Leonys Martin head to Cleveland.
Castro seems to have earned himself a place in Detroit’s infield mix going forward, though it remains to be seen if he’ll stick at shortstop given a lackluster (-3.3 UZR/150, -7 Defensive Runs Saved) defensive showing over 212 1/3 innings at the position this season. Niko Goodrum delivered much better glovework when playing shortstop, so the Tigers could opt to try Castro out at second or third base in 2021. Conversely, Castro could get a longer look at shortstop to see if his defense can improve with more seasoning, and the Tigers could move Goodrum back into his old superutility role.