Astros: Welcome to the musical chairs edition of Astros closers
And you thought Ken Giles was no longer an Astros closing option.
If you are reading this, you are probably just waking up to check the box score. You look at your phone and see the notification that the Astros won the game 6-3. The first thought running through your head is, did Ken Giles get the save or did Hector Rondon get the call? You look at the box score and see that it was Giles. At that moment, you are scratching your head pondering why Rondon got the last three saves.
As I wrote the other day, AJ Hinch is not likely to have one set closer. He hinted after having multiple relievers record saves this season. While most managers like having the consistency of having one guy in that role no matter the situation is when they come in that game. That is not who Hinch and the Astros are. They rely on the best matchup for the situation.
Last night with a three-run lead, they went with Giles.
Giles was due to face Jonathan Lucroy, Dustin Fowler, and Marcus Semien, their ninth and top two hitters in the lineup. Lucroy was 1-8 versus Giles with two strikeouts in his career. Fowler is a rookie, so that was the first time the two faced each other. Semien is 2-5 versus Giles with a homer. Giles struck out Lucroy before Fowler hit a single. Semien flew out to Josh Reddick, who had just moved from right field.
That brought up Jed Lowrie, yes that one, who was 2-5 versus Giles in his career. Giles struck out Lowrie with his bat on his shoulder to end the game. After Fowler’s single, Giles lost his focus for a few pitches, going down 2-0 to Semien, but recovered to get him out. While it wasn’t a clean inning like Hinch wants, he only threw 12 pitches. Only two were balls.
Perfect in save situations.
With that save, Giles is now 11 for 11 in saves this year with a zero ERA. You read that right, so why is there controversy over the closer situation? In non-save situations, Giles is 0-1 with an 8.53 ERA. As I mentioned earlier, Rondon got a save versus the Mariners and two versus the Rangers. Most people assumed, especially in Fantasy Baseball, that Rondon was the new closer.
Giles now has a 4.76 ERA with 23 strikeouts in 22 2/3 innings. We will not know who the closer for that night will be until the middle of the eighth inning when we see who’s warming up. It should be pointed out that Rondon’s three saves were all with a two runs or less lead. Maybe Hinch feels better with Rondon with the smaller lead and Giles with the three-run or more lead.
Next: Do the Astros have a new closer in Hector Rondon?
The bottom line is who cares who gets the final three outs? Fantasy Baseball owners do. Maybe
Hinch will start a closers revolution, but this team is on a six-game winning streak. This will be a fun thing to wonder each night, who gets the save? Only one person really knows. It doesn’t hurt to have two qualified people to do the job.
***Stats from ESPN and Baseball-Reference***