Barring some tragic injury, Ken Giles is going to be the next closer for the Philadelphia Phillies. Which doesn’t mean he will be the closer when next season opens.
The Phillies have dangled current closer Jonathan Papelbon…okay, they’ve flashed a massive “FOR SALE!” sign over his head…for months now, hoping that someone would take the veteran and his $13 million contract off their hands.
However, despite a tremendous on-field record for years now, including in both of his Phillies seasons, and despite the fact that, at 34 years of age, he’s not all that old for reliever standards, no one has yet taken the bait.
There are a number of issues with Papelbon, most of them having to do with his frequent public comments critical to ownership and management in both Boston and Philly. And then there are a few high-profile controversies, such as his crotch-grabbing incident late in the 2014 season.
But sooner or later, Papelbon will either be dealt, or his health will collapse, or his deal will run out. On that day, Ken Giles will become the closer for the Phillies.
The 24-year old who has become known as “100-Miles” (as in Miles Per Hour) Giles appears to have everything that a big league bullpen looks for at it’s back-end. He throws hard, he competes strong, and he’s unflappable.
In his 2014 rookie season, Giles pitched in 44 games beginning with his June 12th debut. He spread 45.2 innings over those games, allowing just 25 hits while accumulating a 64/11 strikeout/walk ratio.
His impressive 2/3 of a season was enough for him to finish 4th in NL Rookie of the Year voting. He was also voted the Phillies Top Rookie honors in voting by TBOH staff at the end of the 2014 season.
Giles also allowed just one homerun all year – to the very first batter that he faced, Yasmani Grandal of San Diego. He struckout the next hitter to finish off a 7-3 victory, and he never looked back.
The Phillies have a few talented bullpen arms right now, and frankly Papelbon is one of them. If he goes nowhere, he remains the closer. In that case, Ken Giles will remain a weapon as a setup man. But whether it’s at the start of 2015, during the season, in 2016, or in 2017, he will be the Phillies next closer.