There have been a number of amazing relief pitching performances in the Major Leagues this year. The resurrections of once top prospects Wade Davis (9-2, 3 saves, 0.93 ERA) and Andrew Miller (14.84 K/9 IP) have gotten a lot of attention, as has the meteoric rise of Yankees’ reliever Dellin Betances (1.33 ERA, 13.50 K/9 IP). Aroldis Chapman (2.20 ERA, 17.45 K/9 IP) is averaging nearly two strikeouts per inning pitched while relievers who have had solid seasons have made their 2014 campaigns memorable like Jake McGee, Mark Melancon and Pat Neshek.
Although the Phillies will end the season well out of the playoff race, their bullpen has been one of their greatest strengths. Jonathan Papelbon put together another nice season in Philadelphia and sits just eight saves behind Jose Mesa for the franchise’s all-time record. Jake Diekman continued to strike batters out and has settled into a solid role as a left-handed set-up man. Mario Hollands was impressive early but fell victim to the wear and tear of a long season and Justin De Fratus is probably as close to a finished product out of the bullpen that the Phillies put on the field among their young arms.
Perhaps aside from Ken Giles.
Giles, arguably, has been the Phillies’ best reliever in 2014, leading the club in ERA, FIP, xFIP, and K/9 IP while only trailing De Fratus and Papelbon in BB/9 IP. While WAR isn’t the best measure to measure relievers, it is worth noting that the advanced stat has him just .1 behind Jonathan Papelbon for the team lead among relievers in that stat in only 68% of the innings pitched. Among other rookie relievers with at least 40 innings pitched, Giles ranks first in the NL in K/9 IP, ERA, FIP, xFIP, and HR/9 IP while ranking second in BB/9 IP.
Giles’ success puts him at the top of the class of NL rookie relief pitchers in 2014 and puts him at the top of the list of rookie relief seasons in club history. Among Phillies’ rookie relievers with at least 40 innings pitched, Giles ranks first in, you guessed it, ERA, FIP, xFIP, and K/9 IP. Some of these margins aren’t even close, either. Below is a comparison of the top five rookie seasons in Phillies’ history among relievers per FanGraphs’ version of WAR. Only Ryan Madson‘s 2004 comes close to holding a candle to Giles. While other rookies have had great seasons in relief for the Phillies, no one has been able to capture the dominance and control Giles has in his first season.