Astros Acquire Ken Giles, Underrated Relief Ace

Since the Astros bullpen blew a 6-2 lead in Game 4 of the ALDS, it’s been widely expected that they were going to make moves to reinforce their relief corps this winter. After a few months of kicking around various options, the team today acquired a potentially dominating new closer.

Giles might not yet have the household name of an elite relief ace, but over the last couple of years, he’s absolutely pitched like one.

2014-2015 Top 10 RPs by xFIP-
Name IP BB% K% GB% HR/FB LOB% BABIP ERA- FIP- xFIP- WAR RA9-WAR
Andrew Miller 124 8% 42% 48% 11% 81% 0.252 49 46 46 4.2 4.4
Aroldis Chapman 120 12% 46% 39% 5% 84% 0.316 46 37 50 5.2 4.8
Dellin Betances 174 10% 40% 47% 9% 88% 0.248 36 50 54 5.6 7.5
Kenley Jansen 117 6% 39% 35% 10% 82% 0.312 72 54 55 3.9 2.9
David Robertson 127 7% 36% 40% 15% 72% 0.280 81 64 56 3.4 2.3
Zach Britton 142 7% 26% 77% 18% 82% 0.256 44 65 60 3.2 5.5
Craig Kimbrel 121 10% 38% 44% 9% 81% 0.256 57 60 62 3.7 3.9
Brett Cecil 107 9% 33% 53% 9% 79% 0.312 65 59 63 2.5 2.5
Wade Davis 139 8% 35% 43% 3% 90% 0.231 25 44 63 5.0 7.2
Ken Giles 115 8% 33% 45% 3% 78% 0.297 40 47 69 3.7 3.2

Giles’ insanely low home-run rate is unlikely to last, but even with regression there, the strikeout numbers allow him to profile as a high-end closer. He’s not quite Craig Kimbrel, but he’s in that mold, and acquiring Kimbrel-lite isn’t so bad, especially when you are picking up five years of team control, though it should be worth noting that arbitration pays closers handsomely, and so he might not be a significant value for all five of those years if his salaries escalate quickly.

Still, this is a non-rental elite reliever, the kind of guy who can dramatically improve the Astros bullpen, and the type of pitcher who has seen his stock improve dramatically this winter. To land Giles, the team had to give up a valuable pitching prospect in Vincent Velasquez — who could profile better in relief himself, and might end up as a dominating relief ace himself if he can stay healthy — and former first-round pick Derek Fisher, along with a couple of other parts. The trade makes plenty of sense for the Phillies, who don’t need to be stockpiling relievers while they rebuild, but also gives the Astros quite a bit more certainty in 2016.

We hoped you liked reading Astros Acquire Ken Giles, Underrated Relief Ace by Dave Cameron!

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Well-Beered Englishman
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The San Antonio Spurs are relieved that Derek Fisher is no longer playing for one of the other Texas teams.

Phil Jackson
Guest
Phil Jackson

He does get to coach the next Nowitzki, however.