Ken Giles

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Kenneth Robert Giles

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Biographical Information[edit]

Pitcher Ken Giles made his debut with the Philadelphia Phillies on June 12, 2014. He quickly established himself as one of the team's most reliable relievers, posting a minuscule ERA over his first few weeks and earning the right to be the top set-up man for closer Jonathan Papelbon. On September 1st, he entered a game against the Atlanta Braves in the 8th inning after starter Cole Hamels had tossed six hitless innings and Jake Diekman had followed with a perfect 7th. Not to be outdone, he proceeded to strike out Jason Heyward, Emilio Bonifacio and Freddie Freeman in order, then handed the ball to Papelbon, who completed the combined 7-0 no-hit win with a perfect 9th inning.

On December 12, 2015, Giles was traded to the Houston Astros along with Jonathan Arauz in return for five prospects: Mark Appel, Harold Arauz, Thomas Eshelman, Brett Oberholtzer and Vincent Velasquez. The Astros were counting on Giles to develop into a lock-down closer, but things did not go as planned. His first season with the team in 2016 was ho-hum as he went 2-5, 4.11 with 15 saves in 69 appearances. He did much better in 2017 as the Astros won the AL West title, saving 34 games with a 2.30 ERA in 63 games, finishing the season strong. However, it fell apart in the postseason, as he gave up a run in both of his appearances in the Division Series even though he saved the Astros' win over the Boston Red Sox in Game 4 to send them on to the ALCS. He saved Game 1 of that series against the New York Yankees, but again gave up a run, but then gave up 2 runs in just a third of an inning in Game 4 to be charged with a 6-4 loss. He seemed to definitely lose manager A.J. Hinch's confidence with that outing, as the skipper then used a different strategy to close out games, using some of his starters for extended stretches in a relief role. For his part, Giles pitched twice in the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, but was ineffective both times as he gave up a total of 5 runs in 1 2/3 innings. So while he won a World Series win as the Astros prevailed in seven games, he had failed in his own personal mission.

As a result of his poor performance in the 2017 postseason, there were all sorts of questions surrounding Giles heading into the 2018 season. He had a solid April, but in May, while he recorded 7 saves, his ERA was a poor 7.88, and while pitched better in June, he was only given one save opportunity - which he converted - and his only decision was a loss. On July 10th, however, he had a dreadful outing against the Oakland Athletics as he came into the game to start the 9th with a 4-0 lead and proceeded to cough up three consecutive singles before giving way to Hector Rondon; all three runners eventually scored as Oakland tied the game before Houston won in extra innings. A day later, Ken was sent down to AAA; it was partly because of his poor performance, but also a message after he had cursed Hinch when he had come to take him out of the game after he had created a mess the day before. On July 30th, having clearly lost the confidence of his skipper, he was one of three pitchers traded to the Toronto Blue Jays to acquire disgraced closer Roberto Osuna. Strangely, Giles was a perfect 12-for-12 in save situations for Houston, in spite of pitching poorly in other appearances, and the pattern repeated itself in Toronto, as he also was successful in all 14 of his save opportunities, in spite of sporting an ERA above 4.00. He ended the season at 0-3, 4.65, with 26 saves between the two teams.

Giles converted his first three save opportunities of 2019 for the Blue Jays, running his streak to 34 games, before he finally faltered on April 11th, blowing a one-run 9th inning lead at Fenway Park to be charged with a 7-6 loss to the Boston Red Sox. He was still the Jays' best pitcher over the first half, going 1-2 with 13 saves and a 1.45 ERA, with only 22 hits allowed in 31 innings and 53 strikeouts. However, it was Marcus Stroman who got the nod to represent the Blue Jays at the 2019 All-Star Game. It was clear that he was a candidate to be traded before the trading deadline, with Toronto going nowhere, and when he failed to come out to protect a two-run lead against the New York Yankees on July 13th, people may have thought that it was because he had just been traded to a contender. However, the reason was more prosaic, as he was suffering from soreness in his elbow, apparently the result of a massage gone wrong over the All-Star break. Daniel Hudson was able to close out the win in his absence. He ended up staying with the Jays while Hudson was traded and found World Series glory with the Washington Nationals. He ended the year at 2-3, 1.87 in 53 games, with 23 saves in 24 opportunities and 83 strikeouts in 53 innings.

He saved the Blue Jays' opening day win over the Tampa Bay Rays on July 24, 2020, and seemed on his way to record a second save two days later against the same team, recording two quick outs with a 4-2 lead in the 9th, but then completely unraveled. He allowed a double to pinch-hitter Joey Wendle then walked the next two batters and seemed completely out of sorts as he ran a 3-1 count on Ji-Man Choi, at which point he was replaced by Brian Moran. Moran was only able to record the final out of the inning after two runs had scored, sending the game into extra innings. For his part, Giles was placed on the injured list the next day. He returned to the mound on September 11th, in a blowout 18-1 loss to the New York Mets; on his first pitch back, he allowed a homer to Wilson Ramos, but he settled down after that. However, after a second appearance in a blow-out loss, he returned to the injured list, and on September 21st it was announced that he would need to undergo Tommy John surgery, costing him the 2021 season as well.

Notable Achievements[edit]

Further Reading[edit]

  • Brian McTaggart: "Astros remain confident in Giles as closer",, December 12, 2017. [1]
  • Brian McTaggart: "New year, new outlook for Houston's Giles: Astros closer bulks up in effort to pitch effectively deep into October",, February 18, 2018. [2]
  • Jesse Yomtov: "Blue Jays closer Ken Giles 'felt trapped' during time with Astros", USA Today, September 25, 2018. [3]

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