Houston Astros Bullpen: Is Ken Giles the Answer to the Astros Bullpen?
It is no secret that the Houston Astros are seeking upgrades to the bullpen this offseason, because fresh in everyone’s memory is the disaster that was Game Four of the 2015 ALDS. The bullpen as it consists right now has Luke Gregerson, Pat Neshek, Josh Fields, and Will Harris. While it has not been ruled out, it seems that Vincent Velasquez seems not bound to pitch out of the bullpen. Velasquez and Mark Appel, according to Jeff Luhnow on the radio, will fight for the fifth spot in the rotation.
Scott Feldman will probably be the long reliever, and the Astros could use the loser of the Velasquez/Appel battle out of the bullpen, but most likely they will be in Triple-A as rotation depth. That leaves three spots in the Astros bullpen.
The Astros will try their best to re-sign Tony Sipp, but the other teams know how good he is and might try to snatch him up. However, two of those open three spots will probably go to left-handed pitchers. The Phillies are not really good right now, is there someone we can acquire from them?
The Phillies are one of the worst teams in baseball, after trading Cole Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon, Chase Utley, and Jimmy Rollins. They have this good reliever in the bullpen that could be available in a trade; his name is Ken Giles. The 23-year-old reliever who became the closer after Papelbon was traded to the Nationals. He has been labeled as the next big time closer since his debut in 2014.
His 2015 stats via Baseball-Reference: 6-3/ 1.80 ERA/ 15 saves/ 87 strikeouts in 70 innings.
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This is the perfect pitcher for the Astros bullpen, and he would not cost as much as the more big name closers. However, he will not come cheap as he has plenty of team control with only playing two years in the bigs. According to Fangraphs, Giles throws 96.5 MPH with an 86 MPH slider. His speed was slightly down from 2014, but this was more likely a byproduct of learning how to pitch better.
It would most likely take three prospects to get the Phillies to agree to the trade because Giles is not even eligible for arbitration until 2018. The Phillies have already obtained some top prospects in trades the past two years, and a Giles trade fetching three more could restart the team faster. Yes, they will be giving up probably one of the best young closers in baseball, but what does a losing team with a good closer. The Astros wrestled for a while with this belief but started winning as they improved the bullpen more.
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You want a trade idea, let’s try Francis Martes, Tony Kemp, and a lower level pitching prospect. Kemp would be ready to help in 2016, Martes could be the closer down the road, and they could add starting pitching depth for when they are ready. We will see if Luhnow goes this route.