BIGGEST RELIEF: THE KEN GILES TRADE
As a huge fan of Ken Giles since the initial conversation that the Astros would be linked to the flamethrower, this is not exactly relief for your humble writer. Even though every excellent reliever encounters a rough stretch, Giles looked pretty lost at the beginning of 2016. The Astros were barbecued for trading a package that included Vince Velasquez and former number one overall pick Mark Appel for Ken Giles.
Giles’s first season started off rough to say the very least while Velasquez dazzled for the Phillies. But Giles turned it around, Velasquez’s performance became hindered by his injuries (one of the primary reasons the Astros were willing to part with him), and Appel struggled in the Phillies’ system.
No looking back.
Hindsight will always be 20/20. On no planet would Astros fans root against the success of young players attempting to live out their dreams as Major Leaguers. However, one would be willing to wager that Astros fans would much rather have the recently sublime Kenny G and than Velasquez and Appel’s rough starts to 2017, especially with Velasquez’s elbow issues that surfaced last week. As Brian Kenny will tell you, never ever ever ever ever judge a trade too soon.
So now, Ken Giles’ 15 saves are second in the AL to only Craig Kimbrel’s 16. His HR/9 is down from 1.1 last year to 0.4 this year. Giles’ 2.34 FIP trails his two years with the Phillies at 1.34 and 2.13, but that is by no means a bad problem to have. His 1.030 WHIP is the best of his career since his 2014 rookie campaign, and he looks electric on the mound.
But the best part? Giles is arbitration eligible in 2018. His earliest possible free agency is 2021, where he will be entering his age-30 season.