Ken Giles Might be Frighteningly Good in 2015


Ken Giles is a filthy human being. That’s designed to resonate with admiration more than disgust. At 24-years-old with regular 98 mph cheese and a slider that brings back memories of Brad Lidge in his peak, Giles should blow teams away in 2015. Here’s to calling his All-Star selection and top reliever status right now.

To familiarize ourselves with Giles, let’s examine his enticing body of work with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2014. The right-hander totaled 45 2/3 innings pitched across 44 appearances. He struck out 64 victims and surrendered just one home run. His ERA was 1.23 at home and 1.14 on the road.

Here’s the most promising component for Giles. He had 43 strikeouts with his slider and only allowed a .101 batting average against it. Being at a tender age with an inexperienced arm, it has to be exhilarating for Phillies’ fans that Giles already has a devastating secondary pitch.

As we’ve seen with Greg Holland, Craig Kimbrel and other excellent relievers, batters don’t usually touch a wicked secondary offering even when its arrival is sensed. These monsters have maintained dominance despite only utilizing two pitches. Giles has the chance to walk a similar career trajectory.

Skeptics can argue Giles falling off due to offenses gaining comfort in facing him over time. His corner will contend that 2014 was the mere start of his terrifying pedigree of terror. The trends support the last choice rather than the first. To understand why, the slider from the right arm of Giles needs to be examined further.

Giles threw 272 sliders in 2014. And he racked up 45 2/3 total frames as mentioned earlier. My reason for emphasizing these numbers is to illustrate that this slider wasn’t a fluke success based on a tiny body of work. Against these 272 sliders, batters hit one double. That accounted for the only extra-base hit against this barbaric option.

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Beyond that, Giles only threw his slider in the strike zone 37.9% of the time. He goes for chases to build his punchouts. Even being out of the zone more often than not, Giles featured a swinging strike on 24.3% of these offerings. These numbers are eerily close to what Holland posted in 2014, possibly the best closer in baseball. Holland’s slider was in the zone 38.8% of the time. He landed a swinging strike on 25.5% of occasions.

Does this mean Giles is on track to become the next Holland? Of course not. But this concretely indicates that Giles has both similar pitches and an identical approach to the nastiest ninth inning machine in the game. Giles also throws harder and promisingly didn’t struggle with walks in his rookie year. He had 11, enough to not regularly give in, but a small enough amount to avoid prevalence. That’s a trait also shared by Holland.

There won’t be much optimism in Philadelphia this coming season. They appear to be a last-place team full of old, expensive players. However, Ken Giles is an exception. If the Phillies deal Jonathan Papelbon, Giles can be the closer. If Papelbon is kept, Giles might be the Phillies’ version of Wade Davis. This isn’t hyperbole. Giles has the stuff and trends of a nightmare. Expect him to do plenty of frightening throughout 2015.

Next: Billy Butler's Role Critical for A's in 2015