This decision by Astros manager Hinch was less about Giles’ performance and more on how dominating Peacock was.
Every once in a while a pitcher has everything working perfectly, that roles get thrown out the window. This is what we saw with the Astros on Wednesday when Brad Peacock toed the rubber at Minute Maid Park in the seventh inning. From the moment he threw his first pitch, Astros fans felt like Peacock was in total control of all his pitches. This was also very evident to A.J. Hinch who let Peacock finish the game.
Peacock faced 11 batters to get the final nine outs of the ballgame. He did allow hits to Jonathan Schoop (double with one out in the 7th) and Manny Machado (single in the 9th with two outs). Peacock’s slider was unhittable, and he hit his spots with his fastball. When the Astros regained the lead, Peacock started racking up the strikeouts (five of them).
The question is, why did Hinch not bring in Giles to get the save with the one-run lead? Did the Tigers pull Billy Chapel when he was in the zone in the movie For the Love of the Game? You want to let Peacock work his magic, so Hinch never even warmed up another reliever in the ninth inning. He had total faith in Peacock shutting the game down.
Logic may tell you that you need to go with your closer with the one-run lead, but Hinch has never been a solid roles type of guy. Yes, Giles will get the majority of the saves this year. But others will get some opportunities with matchups and availability. Giles has zero saves and a 4.50 ERA in two games with two strikeouts.
Hinch says there is not any controversy.
During the postgame meeting with the media, Hinch said that this was not sending a message to Giles. “The move today has no indictment on Ken Giles, it’s not a message being sent to him. There is not an issue on this team as to who would get the last out of the game.” That was a quote from Hinch from the presser via Adam Wexler.
Hinch mentioned that he liked the way Peacock was throwing the balls and matchups in the ninth. Should there have been any issues, he would have called on Giles. Wexler even said that Peacock was surprised that Hinch left him in to pitch the ninth inning. This is not the first or last time that Peacock has thrown multi-innings out of the bullpen. It’s just what he does.
A look at Giles so far.
When you look at when Giles has pitched this year, you can see where the questions are stemming from. Giles has only pitched in non-save situations. Granted that the Astros currently have a +21 run differential in their seven games, there haven’t been too many options. Some might also wonder why Giles did not pitch at home during the opening series celebrating the World Series win.
It’s still early in the season, and Giles’ World Series performances are still fresh in fans’ minds. As an Astros fan, we are used to drama with our closers going back to the Brad Lidge days. When the Astros traded for Giles in 2016, we expected that the closer situation would be settled. Instead, it became a battle between Luke Gregerson and Giles. There is not anyone challenging his role as the closer right now.
We could see Giles multiple times versus the Padres with the extra rest. It’s still early in the season, but we will continue to monitor how he performs in save situations. This decision by Hinch was less about Giles’ performance and more on how awesome Peacock was. If he is struggling into June, then maybe we need to take it a little more serious. Enjoy this team. They are pretty good.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***