The Houston Astros Announce that the Closer is Luke Gregerson
Ever since the Houston Astros acquired Ken Giles and Jonathan Arauz in offseason, sending five players back to the Philadelphia Phillies, people have wondered why the Astros haven’t announced that Giles was the closer. Even back then, I thought it was strange that they had not said that Giles was the closer. People assumed that trading that much to acquire Giles meant that he was the closer, but that’s not how things always work out.
The incumbent closer Luke Gregerson was the one that A.J. Hinch has labeled as the primary closer, as reported by new beat writer Jake Kaplan. Giles will get some save opportunities, but the main guy will be Gregerson. The Astros are really big into matchups and sabermetrics, so it is not surprising that they want to bring in the right guy at the right time and not lock them into one spot. If we had Giles last year, bring him in when the Astros can’t get the Royal hitters to miss the ball and not save him for the ninth inning.
Gregerson is like Batman and Giles is like Robin, they are fighting for the same goal, to preserve the lead or keep the game within striking distance. While Batman normally get’s the credit for defeating the Riddler Rangers and Joker Angels, Robin gets into some fight scenes as well and sometimes defeats the bad guys.
We talked about the closers situation in Talking Stros.
Speaking of Batman-Robin, I remember another time when the Astros had this talent in the back of the bullpen with Billy Wagner and Brad Lidge. What happened to Lidge when Wagner was traded to the Phillies, he became the Astros closer who will be forever known as the guys that gave up the home run to Albert Pujols that silenced all of the Houston area.
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In other words, I’ve seen this movie before, and I think that this combination could be successful. Should Gregerson struggle, they can switch roles, but give the veteran a chance to win the job before giving it to the new guy. I have felt that Giles should be the closer with my passion, but the logic in my head told me otherwise with the non-committal nature of comments about who the closer was.
One thing that I want to put to bed is the opinions out there that Giles lost his job with his poor performance this spring. While he is not a grizzled veteran, he has a proven track record in his two years as a major leaguer. He struggled last spring as well with the Phillies but took over as closer when they traded Jonathan Papelbon. I think the delay in naming Gregerson the closer was waiting for him to get healthy again this spring.
The Astros lacked the flame-thrower in the bullpen last season. If there is a situation in the sixth or seventh when you have the bases loaded, who would you rather come in, Gregerson or Giles? I would go with the strikeout guy in Giles, but if he is tied to the ninth inning, you don’t have that luxury. It’s a good gesture by A.J. Hinch to give Gregerson the first shot, he was part of the success last season for the Astros.