The Phillies called up hard-throwing righthanded reliever Kenny Giles on Sunday to fill in for injured righthander Mike Adams, who had been among the most reliable relievers in an unstable Phillies’ bullpen. The Phillies’ relief woes were particularly evident when Phillippe Aumont allowed home runs in consecutive appearances against the Mets and was sent down after compiling a 21.60 ERA.
Fans have called for Giles and his 100-mph fastball since the beginning of the season, when closer Jonathan Papelbon was hit hard in the second game of the season.
Giles began the season with Double-A Reading, where he had seven saves and 29 strikeouts to just five walks in 15 innings. At Triple-A Lehigh Valley, was he 2-0, 2.63, but walked eight in 14 innings.
At Double-A, Giles got a lot of his strikeouts on fastballs up in the zone or out of it altogether. While the slider has improved, it’s still a clear second pitch that is better early in the count rather than later. Most relievers need to have a second pitch they can rely on consistently. Giles doesn’t have that yet.
Giles, 23, hit 103 mph on the radar gun last season in a high Class A Florida State League game. Occasionally, however, he gets caught up with velocity and tries to throw too hard, causing his mechanics to deteriorate along with his ability to throw strikes.
In 66 career minor league games prior to this season, Giles had struck out 12.2 batters per nine innings but walked 5.8.
Prior to his callup, he was working on becoming more consistent with his mechanics with Triple-A teammate Justin DeFratus and pitching coach Ray Burris.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Giles has always thrown hard. He hasn’t always thrown it in—or near—the strike zone. He dominated at Reading, but clearly his slider remains erratic, evidenced by his high walk total at Triple-A. Certainly, his triple-digit fastball gives him a weapon, but Giles is in no way a savior.
Still, the Phillies had a need, and with their season in peril already, Giles was a worthy gambit.
With Papelbon still around, however, it’s unclear if Giles is a worthwhile play for fantasy owners who crave saves. Also, prior to this season, he’d pitched less than 30 innings above Class A, so the Phillies are likely to monitor his pitches and innings.