I was always a fan of Jonathan Papelbon, before he came in to Philadelphia closing for the Boston Red Sox, and even through his crotch-grabbing antics on the Phillies. I would always say that the Phillies had the best 1-2 punch, 8th and 9th inning combination with Ken Giles and Jonathan Papelbon. In 2015, roles changed though, and Ken Giles was placed into the role of Closer after the trade of Papelbon to the Nationals in July, and has been anything but impressive for the Phillies thus far.
Giles finished the season with 15 saves, a 6-3 W-L record, and a 1.80 ERA. He was only 2 saves away from matching Papelbon before his trade. Ken Giles had 9 saves in the month of August alone while holding a 0.69 ERA. His 1.20 WHIP puts him in the top 20 of relief pitchers with 70.0 innings pitched or more. His workhorse mentality keeps him in front of batters on the mound, and it shows by his 11.19 K/9 innings ratio, and his 87 strikeouts through 70.0 innings.
Ken Giles was drafted in 2011 in the 7th round at 241st overall. He was assigned to the Gulf Coast League team in 2011 and played 4.2 innings before starting 2012 in Single-A where he pitched 82.0 innings with a 3.51 ERA over 39 games. In 2013, Giles found himself on and off the DL at Clearwater, where he pitched in 24 games and finished with a 6.31 ERA over 25.2 innings.
In 2014 Ken Giles was invited to Spring Training and was put in Reading on the Fightins in March, sent to the IronPigs in May, and then finally called up to the Majors a month later on June 8th. He posted a 1.18 ERA over 45.2 innings with 64 strikeouts and 11 walks for the 2014 season on the Philadelphia Phillies.
Getting back to 2015, Giles had more opportunities than he did saves, coming in at 15 out of 20, while inheriting 16 runners and allowing 3 to score. Giles ranked 24th in the MLB for fastest average velocity on a four-seam fastball, coming in at 96.9 MPH, with a slightly lower perceived speed of 95.7 and an average spin rate of 2,325 RPMs, as per Statcast on MLB.com.
Giles has been a bright spot on the pitching staff this year, and has looked to be a solid candidate to beat the record for saves held by previous closer, Jonathan Papelbon. There is always a high value in a great closer though, and there is always a chance that a rebuilding team will find a better value elsewhere in somebody else.
Grade: A-/B+/90. Ken Giles comes out as the 8th top reliever in baseball in WAR, with a 2.0 rating as per FanGraphs, giving him a bonus leg up in the grading scale. As he’s given up a few hits and runs here and there (59 hits, 23 runs, 14 earned), he was still deserving of an A grade because he stepped into the closing role upon request, and almost bested his predecessor within an average ball club, in a much shorter period of time. At 25 years old, I have no doubt that Ken Giles will become one of the finest closers Philadelphia could find. A diamond among the rough, rough, rebuilding Phillies team, waiting to be polished.