Astros bullpen: True or False, is Ken Giles no longer the closer?

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Apr 8, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros relief pitcher Luke Gregerson (44) pitches during the eighth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 8, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros relief pitcher Luke Gregerson (44) pitches during the eighth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /
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Is Luke Gregerson now the Houston Astros closer?

Many Houston Astros fans, who were not distracted by Carlos Correa‘s injury, wondered about something else. Why did manager A.J. Hinch bring in Ken Giles to pitch the eighth inning and have Luke Gregerson pitch the ninth inning? Giles started the season off impressive but has struggled recently. Has the skipper seen enough of Giles to think that a change of closer has occurred? If so, Gregerson has not been Mr. Reliable himself.

The title of this post is True or False, is Ken Giles no longer the closer? The answer is a clear false. This was clearly a decision that Hinch made because of the situation and matchup. It was during the eighth inning that the Astros scored four runs, so they were still trailing by one run. After the game, Hinch told reporters that he already had Giles warmed up to come into the game trailing. So, Hinch just brought him into the game in the eighth inning.

Giles did give up a run in the eighth inning, but it was only after a lead off Decker triple. Two batters later, Matt Joyce hit a sacrifice fly to center field. This was the play that Jake Marisnick slipped when trying to transfer the ball to his hand. Giles then finished the inning by striking out Trevor Plouffe. Then, the whole Correa injury happened in the top of the ninth inning.

Former closer Gregerson came in and retired the Athletics in 1-2-3 order. Earlier in the year, Hinch told reporters that Giles would close most games. He reiterated that after the game yesterday. The following quote is via a Jake Kaplan tweet.

"“Ken’s still going to finish most of the games,” Hinch said. “But that’s what I mean by ‘most of the games.'”"

When you look at the two pitchers stats this year, they are relatively equal. Giles now has a 9.00 ERA with nine strikeouts in five innings. Gregerson has an 8.53 ERA with five strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings pitched. Giles has spread out his runs to one each appearance while Gregerson had that terrible game versus the Royals. Gregerson has been more consistent.

Gregerson and Michael Feliz were both warming up for the ninth inning. Hinch went with Gregerson.

Next: The Astros and Carlos Correa dodge a serious injury in comeback win

This was not a changing of the guard at closer, but instead, just the right thing to do at the time. It’s still early, but the Astros now have a two-game lead in the AL West. The Mariners and/or Mariners will start winning soon, so the Astros need every win they can get. If Hinch has to be creative with his bullpen to get the job done, I’m good with it.

Happy Easter!

***Stats from MLB.com***

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