The Houston Astros have made a move for a reliever, albeit an unexpected one.
According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Astros have acquired Roberto Osuna from the Toronto Blue Jays.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 30, 2018
The Astros are giving up former closer Ken Giles, who has struggled and been demoted to the minors this season.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 30, 2018
There’s a non-baseball angle that’s impossible to ignore here. Osuna is suspended until early August due to a domestic violence incident, where he is still facing charges in Canada. Reports have indicated that the case was a serious one. Osuna has a 2.87 career ERA and 104 saves, so he’s a quality pitcher with plenty of experience. Given the allegations against him, however, he’s going to be a very controversial addition.
As for Giles, he was demoted earlier in July after cursing out his manager while being removed from a game. That, it turns out, will be his last act in an Astros uniform, with Houston deciding a change of scenery was necessary.
Ken Giles has gone from Houston Astros closer to minor leaguer.
The Astros optioned Giles to AAA Fresno on Wednesday, a day after being charged three earned runs and not recording an out against the Oakland Athletics.
Whoa! The #Astros option struggling closer Ken Giles to Triple A Fresno and recall lefty Cionel Pérez from Class AA Corpus Christi.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) July 11, 2018
Giles posted a 2.30 ERA last season and seemed like one of the best closers in the game. He collapsed during the postseason, though, and that has carried over into 2018, with his bad outing Wednesday raising his ERA to 4.99.
One has to wonder if this outburst had anything to do with Giles’s demotion. The Astros are doing so well in so many departments, and they don’t need to put up with this sort of thing from a reliever who isn’t performing, even if it’s a high-profile one.
The Ken Giles Experience continues to be as wild and crazy as advertised.
Giles, the Houston Astros reliever, was brought into Tuesday’s game against the Oakland A’s in the ninth inning with a comfortable 4-0 lead. However, he proceeded to allow three consecutive singles and was pulled from the contest without retiring a single batter. As manager AJ Hinch came to the mound to remove him, Giles appeared to curse Hinch out, saying, “F— you man.”
Ken Giles just said "F you man" to AJ Hinch when pulled after giving up two hits and not recording an out in the 9th. Please get rid of him. pic.twitter.com/jvoVh5bI6Y
— Sam McGeever (@BootsMcGeev) July 11, 2018
Fellow right-hander Hector Rondon then took the hill with a 4-1 lead and runners on first and second. He would go on to allow both of the inherited runners (plus another batter) to score, tying the game at 4 all. Rondon did eventually get three outs though, and the game went into extra innings.
As for Giles, it has certainly been an up-and-down season. He entered the game with a 4.11 ERA on the year and has ceded many save opportunities to Rondon lately after starting 2018 as the Astros’ primary closer. Giles was also involved in an incident in May where he punched himself in the head after a particularly rough outing, leading to some funny reactions on Twitter.
Ken Giles took his frustration out on himself after allowing four runs to the New York Yankees in the ninth inning of Tuesday’s game, earning him some ridicule.
Giles entered a scoreless game in the ninth inning after Justin Verlander pitched an outstanding eight innings. He allowed a single to Aaron Judge, a double to Didi Gregorious, got a strikeout, and then he gave up a 3-run home run to Gary Sanchez. Aaron Hicks followed with a single of his own and that was the last batter Giles faced.
After being pulled from the game, Giles appeared to punch himself in the head.
Uh, did Ken Giles just punch himself in the face? pic.twitter.com/Y8kbDIDVtl
— Kenny Ducey (@KennyDucey) May 2, 2018
Following Giles’ implosion, Twitter had fun with the inability of the Astros closer to keep the game scoreless.
Jesus…that clip of Ken Giles punching himself in the face…yea…the Yanks will do that to ya.
— Tovarish (@TovarishSR) May 2, 2018
ive always wanted someone to give Ken Giles a good punch in the face but i never thought the person id be thanking would be…. Ken Giles
— It Is A Mystery (@apiscisaustrini) May 2, 2018
Ken Giles at his house tonight pic.twitter.com/hxtALcER9L
— Jake Montgomery (@JakeM0NTGOMERY) May 2, 2018
Charles Barkley should ask Ken Giles to punch Draymond Green in the face.
— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) May 2, 2018
OMG Ken Giles just punched himself in the face as he left the field. That was the greatest thing I've ever seen. Gary Sanchez just caused a guy to punch himself in the face
— Eric Hubbs (@BarstoolHubbs) May 2, 2018
The Astros when Ken Giles comes storming through the dugout pic.twitter.com/lnyV2ldmmb
— The Yankee Fan (@YankeeLiveTweet) May 2, 2018
Giles struggled with effectiveness during last year’s World Series run by the Astros, losing his job as the closer along the way. However, he has gotten off to a strong start so far this season. Prior to Tuesday’s game, Giles had allowed just two earned runs in 10 innings.
It’s too early to say whether Ken Giles has officially been demoted as Houston Astros closer, but we do know that he won’t serve in that role in Game 5 of the World Series on Sunday.
Astros manager A.J. Hinch told the media that Giles will not be used in a save situation.
Astros manager AJ Hinch said he will give closer Ken Giles and his 27.00 ERA a breather tonight, and won;t use him in a save situation.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) October 29, 2017
Lance McCullers apparently is a possibility to be used out of the pen.
Lance McCullers, Jr. could be an option for the Astros' bullpen tonight; tentatively scheduled for Game 7. Ken Giles will not be the closer.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) October 29, 2017
Giles has been pretty awful all postseason. After recording 34 saves with a 2.30 ERA during the regular season, Giles has gone 0-2 with an 11.74 ERA in the playoffs. He’s allowed runs in six of his seven playoff appearances this year and just does not seem to be a good option for Houston anymore.
A dominant closer can shorten games to eight innings. The real dominant ones take away hope from hitters in the ninth inning, when batters are facing their last chance at victory.
As we continue to press into a post-Mariano Rivera era, there is no shortage of relievers who dominate in that last inning of work.
Here are ten closers who are the most dominant in the league. Keep in mind that only defined closers will be appearing on this list, which is why the likes of Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances will be absent, despite their undeniable successes.
10) Raisel Iglesias, Cincinnati Reds
Iglesias is a newcomer to the closer role, but he’s very clearly made it his own since taking it over. Particularly at the start of the season, the Reds were willing to use the Cuban right-hander as something of a fireman, and he has gotten more than three outs in seven appearances this season. He has been used more traditionally recently, but it hasn’t hurt his numbers.
The 27-year-old has an unreal 0.61 ERA this season, along with 10 saves.
Iglesias’s walk rate is a little higher than the Reds would probably like it, but he’s striking out over a batter an inning, and he’s allowed just 15 hits in 28.1 innings pitched. He hasn’t even allowed a run since April 23.
9) Ken Giles, Houston Astros (more…)
The Houston Astros brought in established closer Ken Giles this offseason, and conventional wisdom states that he’ll be taking over the role. The team’s closer last year, Luke Gregerson, thinks that it’s his job to lose.
“How do you think I did last year?” Gregerson said to reporters on Thursday, via Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. “I don’t see any reasons things should change. Obviously, bringing the guy we brought in, he’s got a strong power arm, he’s shown that he can get guys out in the major league level and I think he’s going to be a great addition to our bullpen no matter where we all fit in.
“I don’t see any reason why I should lose my job because of it, yeah,” Gregerson continued. “I was pretty happy with the way things went last year. I think it could have went even better, just a few outings here and there. We’ll just move forward and see where it takes us.”
Gregerson did a solid job for Houston in 2015, his first season as a closer in the majors, with a 3.10 ERA and 31 saves. He was, however, complicit in the game four playoff meltdown against Kansas City, which may shape opinion some for a franchise that suddenly thinks they can win in the playoffs. Not only that, but Giles’s 1.80 ERA in Philadelphia beats Gregerson’s, and the new guy struck out batters at a higher rate than the incumbent. There’s a reason that the Astros were so hell-bent on acquiring a closer during the offseason, and they didn’t trade several premium prospects for Giles to have him pitch the 8th inning. Gregerson may not be happy about it, but it looks like he’s headed back to the 8th inning.