The Ken Giles trade was one many Phillies fans (including myself at first) were against. “100 Mile Giles” was a highly touted prospect that Phillies fans swooned over the second he reached the major leagues.
Not since the days of Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson did the Phillies have a bona-fide closer who could shutdown opponents and lock down a W.
Jonathan Papelbon got the job done, but he was the opposite of a fan favorite and him being traded to the Nationals made it even better.
Watching him choke so many times in D.C. brings an exuberant amount of joy.
The combination of an overpowering fastball and a knee-buckling slider were nearly unhittable for Ken Giles. In his first full year as the Phillies closer he was 15-20 in save opportunities with a 1.80 ERA. He had 87 strikeouts in 69 innings and finished with a 6-3 record.
This was Matt Klentak’s first major move as the Phillies General Manager. At first, the trade looked very different for both teams. Originally, the Phillies were to get Velasquez, Oberholtzer, Eshelman, and Single-A outfielder Derek Fisher. Not a bad haul for a closer, but at face value it didn’t blow you away.
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Then, there were injury concerns regarding Fisher and the trade took on a much better, and potentially better, look.
The Phillies were able to acquire Mark Appel, Harold Arauz, Velasquez, Oberholtzer, and Eshelman for a package including Ken Giles and teenage shortstop Jonathan Arauz.
With Appel now in the picture, the trade looked ten-fold better on paper for the Phillies.
But what would this trade look like on the field where it matters?
For the Astros, Ken Giles has struggled mightily and has been downgraded to set-up man. It’s hard to fathom Giles regressing, but he is 0-2 with a 5.75 ERA in 24 games. While he does have 27 strikeouts in 20.1 innings, he’s allowed 23 hits, 13 runs, eight walks, and four home runs.
For the Phillies, the prize of the trade Vince Velasquez has been dominant for the majority of his starts. He is 5-1 with a 2.75 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 52.1 innings. He threw a three-hit shutout in only his second start of the season and ranks among the best in baseball in several pitching categories.
In 10 games out of the bullpen as the long-man Brett Oberholtzer is 2-0 with a 6.95 ERA in 22 innings with 20 strikeouts.
Thomas Eshelman is the Phillies #15 prospect and is currently starting in Single-A Clearwater. In eight starts the 21-year-old is 2-2 with a 3.99 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 45.1 innings.
Harold Arauz is starting in Single-A Lakewood with a 1-3 record and a 2.74 ERA in eight starts. He pitched eight shutout innings in his last appearance.
Mark Appel is the final piece to the puzzle. The former first round pick is currently on the disabled list with a shoulder strain. He has struggled in Triple-A Lehigh Valley after competing for a starting major league job.
Consistency and health will be the determining factor in whether or not he pans out in the long term.
Matt Klentak did fairly well with this trade, despite it being his first. Vince Velasquez looks like a solid piece of the Phillies rotation for the long-term and the minor leaguers will be a wait and see. I’d much rather have an electric starting pitcher than an electric closer, considering where the franchise is right now.
I may have preferred a power outfielder (which Fisher was supposed to be) than someone like Eshelman, but you can not complain with the haul the Phillies got for Ken Giles.