MIAMI -- Rockies righty Miguel Castro is the same guy -- same light-pole physique, same lengthy arms and same fingers -- that produced electric results early in the season. But since missing a month with shoulder inflammation, he's the same pitcher only some of the time.
On Sunday afternoon, the less-effective version of Castro replaced a stellar Tyler Anderson in the sixth inning and gave up Marcell Ozuma's three-run homer in the Rockies' 3-0 loss.
At his best, Castro, 21, offers a mid-to-upper 90s fastball that he augments with a knee-buckling slider and an occasional changeup. He had a 1.50 ERA in six appearances through April 17 before a trip to the disabled list. But since then, there have been too many sequences like the one against Ozuma -- bad misses on a slider and a fastball, followed by a 95-mph fastball that Ozuma didn't miss.
The mechanical timing simply isn't there. It was evident when he tried a first-pitch slider that was supposed break away, only to see the ball sail high and inside.
"I'm just trying to work on my mechanics with my arm, just trying to get my arm back up, and I've been working on my location, locating my pitches where they need to be," Castro said through an interpreter.
Six of Castro's 10 appearances since his May 20 return have been scoreless, with two total hits. In the other four, he has coughed up 11 hits and seven runs in three innings.
Before the injury, Castro, whom the Rockies received in the Troy Tulowitzki trade with the Blue Jays, struck out eight in six innings and had worked his way into a late-innings, lead-protecting role. With veteran Jason Motte back from early-season shoulder issues and finding his stride, the Rockies have been using Castro in earlier matchup situations like the one on Sunday.
Anderson had walked Derek Dietrich and had given up a Martin Prado single with one out in the sixth. Anderson then struck out Christian Yelich on a filthy 88-mph cutter, on his professional-high 102nd pitch. With Ozuma having singled twice off Anderson and possessing a history of hurting left-handed pitching, it was time.
"You've got to keep working him," manager Walt Weiss said. "He's got electric stuff. He's a back-end guy. That's a matchup right there I'm looking at before the inning starts."
Anderson, who missed last season after a left elbow stress fracture materialized late in 2014, typifies a Rockies rotation that is young and full of pitch-count concerns because of health or inexperience. The bullpen has some experience, but the power in the right arms of Castro and closer Carlos Estevez dictates that both must pitch at key moments.
Castro simply must return to form.
"I feel fine," Castro said. "I feel the same. I've just got to learn to get through those hard times."