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Houston Astros: The Return of the Dominant Ken Giles

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Apr 24, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros relief pitcher Ken Giles (53) pitches during the twelfth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 24, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros relief pitcher Ken Giles (53) pitches during the twelfth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /
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Ken Giles No Longer Sends Houston Astros Fans Running to the Exits When he Enters.

For most of the 2016 season for Houston Astros, the name Ken Giles has made people have a gag reflex. This may surprise most Phillies fans because he was ‘Mr. Reliable’ for one and a half seasons with them. They always say that a first impression will speak wonders on how people perceive you from that point on, it’s fair to say that Houston’s introduction to Giles was not a good one.

Despite his performance on the mound, some people are never going to be happy with Giles because of the package the Astros traded to get him. I know this is not what Astros fans like to hear, but the package included Vincent Velasquez, Mark Appel, Brett Oberholtzer, and Thomas Eshelman. The Astros did get back Jonathan Arauz, who could profile as a Carlos Correa lite player in the future.

The biggest loss appears to be Velasquez, as he is having a dominating year with a 5-1 record and a 2.42 ERA with 59 strikeouts in 48 1/3 innings. I have a couple four letter words I can throw out here, but they will not be proper for this site. No matter how mad we are about the trade, let’s focus on what we have in Giles for the foreseeable future.

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Even when Giles was struggling earlier, people said don’t worry, because we will have team control him until after 2020. He will eventually be moved into the closer’s role and will dominate the competition like he did in Philadelphia. Just because a movie stinks in the first twenty minutes, the plot line could switch, and suddenly you are watching action-packed masterpiece that you want to watch over and over.

Now that the sucky part of the season is over, Giles has settled in and has joined the bullpen including fellow rough starter Michael Feliz, who I wrote about yesterday. Feliz had two bad starts and was sent down to work on things, but Giles wasn’t given the same opportunity. The Astros were asking Giles to fix himself on the go which he has done remarkably well. He is finally starting to live up to his nickname, ‘100-Miles Giles.’

Giles has already pitched in 21 of the 44 Astros games so far, but he is far more effective in May. In April, he had a 0-2 record and a 9.00 ERA with 14 strikeouts in 10 innings pitched. In May, he has performed much better with a 0-0 record and an ERA of 2.46 with nine strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings. His pitches are crisper, and his breaking ball is getting swings and misses.

According to Fangraphs, his average fastball this year is down from his previous years, but he is increasing it with each game. Yesterday, Giles threw a pitch 99.8 MPH, which means that Giles has found what makes him comfortable to pitch effectively. The Astros went and got him for this reason, to make Jose Abreu look like a chump with the bases loaded. The Astros pitching staff is known for being soft tossers which is why adding a guy like Giles was needed.

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Will Giles have a couple of plot twists from here out? Yes, but overall he should do what he is supposed to do, keep the team in the game. Eventually, he could become the Astros closer, but for now, he can prove to A.J. Hinch that he can maintain this level of play. The Astros needed an arm like Giles in the bullpen. Did they give up too much and could they have just used in-house options? Yes, but you would have criticized them for staying pat this offseason.

***Stats from Baseball-Reference***

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