“100-Miles Giles” Ready for Phils Closer Role


Ken Giles had been preparing himself to assume the Closers role for the Phillies in the wake of a Jonathan Papelbon trade before the July 31st deadline.

“Do I think I could do it? Absolutely,” Giles said in an interview regarding being the closer prior to the trade of Papelbon to Washington that finally came down earlier this week.

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In his first action as the club’s closer, the 24-year-old was able to convert his first Save opportunity on Wednesday, closing out the victory after allowing a leadoff single to Edwin Encarnarcion.

While Giles has been on the mound plenty of times since making his Major League debut last summer, the righthander admitted that his first opportunity as “the guy” was a little nerve-wracking.

“The first one is way the hardest,” Giles said in an interview after Tuesday’s game. “And even though I did it last year, I was way more nervous in this one because I was the guy, I needed to get three outs to conserve that win.”

Giles has been dominant since his call-up in June of last year. In 90.1 innings-pitched, the flame-thrower has 118 strikeouts to go along with a 1.49 ERA and a .201 BAA. This season, he has recorded a 1.81 ERA with 54 strikeouts in 44.2 innings-pitched.

His most lethal weapon is his fastball, which touched 100 and 101 MPH in Tuesday night’s game against the Blue Jays. On average this season, Giles’ fastball has registered at 96.1 MPH, according to FanGraphs. That mark is 1.1 MPH less than his average velocity last season (97.2). His fastball, as was displayed in his last outing, has ticked up as the season has progressed.

In addition to his heater, Giles has shown a filthy slider, which again according to FanGraphs, he has relied on for 39.2 percent of his pitches this season.

As you can see above, there was even some speculation that Giles could be traded, seeing that his young age and high ceiling would make him a valuable asset. Now that Papelbon is in D.C., Giles doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.

With Papelbon and lefthander Jake Diekman now gone, Giles’ is by far the best weapon that the Phillies have in their bullpen. While the Save opportunities may be hard to come by for the remainder of the season, the few opportunities he does have will go a long way towards his development into one of the league’s top closers.

“I think I’m going to be a great closer,” Giles said after converting his first save of 2015.

In Thursday’s victory over the Braves, his home debut as the Closer came. Giles successfully converted his 2nd straight opportunity in a 4-1 victory. In 11 career innings against Atlanta, Giles has now given up zero runs on five hits and has struck out 18 Braves batters.