This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com
On the surface, Frank Castillo was just adequate filler for the back end of the rotation for several teams spanning a decade or so. Beneath this cover of middling starter status lay a hidden beast. A beast that seemed to dominate the New York Yankees. This was discovered during his Red Sox tenure in 2001-2002, with a brief return in 2004.
In three starts against the Yankees in 2001, Frank Castillo shut down the reigning World Champs with 2 victories while allowing just 3 runs on 10 hits in 18 innings pitched. In 2002 Castillo lost his spot in the Red Sox rotation, but not before turning in his best pitching performance of the year. In an early June matchup, the Red Sox held a thin lead over the Yanks for first place. After splitting the first two games of a three game set, the Sox were 1 game ahead of the Yanks when Frank Castillo took the mound on June 2nd, 2002. Castillo threw 7 innings of one run ball to keep the Sox 2 games up in the standings. It would be almost 2 weeks before the Sox relinquished first place.
By the end of July, Castillo was relegated to spot starts and long relief, while the Red Sox watched the Yankees pull away with the division lead. Castillo had trouble regaining the same consistency he showed during the 2001 season, even when it came to the Yanks. In 3 appearances the rest of the way, including what was his 4th to last career start, Frank Castillo allowed 5 runs in 11 and 2/3rds innings against the Yanks.
Castillo was released by the Sox prior to the 2003 season, but returned to play with the Pawtucket Red Sox by the start of the 2004 season. Serving as an emergency option in AAA, Castillo got the call in mid-April. His second, and final, appearance in a Boston uniform came against the Yankees. In a came decided by both starting pitchers who didn’t make it out of the 3rd inning, the game became a pitching duel between bullpens. The ‘pens of both clubs matched zeros on the scoreboard, and the Red Sox were on the losing end. Despite this, Castillo held his end of the bargain and got out of a bases loaded jam in the 9th inning, preventing any further damage and giving the Sox one more chance to rebound from the 7-3 deficit.
Castillo was soon sent back to Pawtucket, where he helped the Paw Sox to a 2nd place finish in the International League. He had one final appearance with the Florida Marlins before hanging it up at the major league level. He was last seen playing independent ball with the York Revolution in the Atlantic League in 2008.
For his Yankee successes, and contribution to the 2004 World Series Champion Red Sox, Happy 40th Birthday to Frank Castillo!