Trading for Ken Giles didn’t payoff immediately for the Blue Jays, but it is starting to
The Toronto Blue Jays brought in Ken Giles in a Deadline deal that saw both them and the Houston Astros unload their problems, although they were completely different in nature. For Toronto, they no longer have to deal with domestic violence allegations hanging over their club and for the Astors, they were able to relieve themselves (see what I did there?) of a closer who was just not cutting it anymore.
Toronto had to like what Giles brings to the mound and was hoping that he would eventually turn things around in a new environment. We hear all the time that some struggling players need a change of scenery and Ross Atkins was hoping this was the case here. With the Astros, Giles saw just over 30 innings of work and had given up 17 runs, quickly surpassing his entire total last season. For a defending world champion that has designs on defending their title, they couldn’t wait for him to figure things out. Enter Toronto.
At that point in the season, the Blue Jays had no worries about contending. They had been long out of things. But, they couldn’t just give up their closer without any obvious arm to step into the role moving forward. They rolled the dice.
Due to his struggles, the ball was not just handed to Giles in save situations, which proved to be a good idea. In his first 4 games in a Blue Jays uniform, he gave up 7 earned runs (two home runs) in just 2.2 innings. His strike out game was still on point as he collected 6 in those 4 appearances. But, he was getting hit and hit hard. Eight hits and the whiffs point to catching a lot of the strike zone. If you throw as hard as he does, you can get by on swing and miss stuff, but not every time as we saw in his first chunk of games in Toronto.
But, something has happened. Giles is a different guy out there. He’s effective. Since August 12th, Giles has appeared in 13 games and only given up two earned runs. To go with this, he’s given up just 9 hits while fanning a dozen. His fastball velocity is averaging over 97.5 mph and we’ve seen him pump it up higher than that. He’s mixing in his 87 mph slider and getting great results. Recently, we saw him hold the Yankees in check in two games in a row. Saturday, he seemed to be the only one who could stop the pinstripe comeback to secure an 8-7 win and on Sunday, he followed that up with 11 of 12 pitches going for strikes to pick up his 22nd save of the year.
The last month has been quiet good for Giles and it is showing his current club some hope for the future. Sure, 2019 doesn’t hold much in the way of expectations, but that doesn’t mean that an effective Giles will go to waste. I mean, we could throw out there that the young 2019 Blue Jays could surprise a lot of people a la Atlanta…it could happen. It is not likely, but it is worth noting. And, if that is the case, having an effective flame throwing closer who can pile up the strike outs will be much needed.
It isn’t likely that Toronto will be competing next year, though. Instead, they will be looking to the year after at the earliest. The good news is that Giles won’t be a free agent until 2021. The team will have control over his contract right in time for such a possibility. Finding a better than average arm for the back end of a bullpen is not an easy task, so this is a huge boost for a team who’s relief corps is kind of up in the air right now.
Giles is making $4.6M this year and will see arbitration in 2019. Sure, his cost will go up, but it won’t be as much as Osuna’s. And, by then, more heavy contracts will be off the books and the bulk of the roster will be made up of cheaper talent.
Time will tell if Giles can keep his current performance going. No one knows what the next few seasons will bring. But, for right now, he’s looking like a pretty good pick up for the Blue Jays. He’s showing them what they hoped for when they traded for him. If he can keep this going into next season and beyond, this might prove to be more than just swapping problems. Blue Jays fans could grow to enjoy the new closer.
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.