Coming in a non-save situation and striking out the side on 16 pitches last night said a lot about Ken Giles. Too many times we see a closer come into a non-save game and gets lit up. Especially, last night in a game such as the one in Portland Maine where the game time temperature was 43 degrees and Reading was trailing 10-2 in the bottom of the eight.
Ken Giles is my Phillies minor league pitcher of month. In April he has been very good. He has appeared in ten games, struck out 24, walked three, given up only seven hits and one earned run for an ERA of 0.75. Opponents hit only .167 off him for the month. He is six for seven in save opportunities.
His biggest improvements have been throwing strikes and staying healthy. In the last several seasons he has averaged over a strikeout an inning but his strike out to walk ratio was only 2-1. In April it is 8-1. He is now averaging two strike outs an inning. Last season he was plagued by back injuries but after pitching in Arizona Fall League, the major league spring training camp and now the month of April at AA his back problems are past history.
The times I have watched him pitched since last season it has been his improved slider that he can get called for third strikes has been his biggest improvement along with throwing his fastball for strikes. After seeing a 99-100 mph fastball the hitters simply freeze when he comes in with low 90’s sliders, especially deep in the count.
Just going over his April splits in Baseball Reference is mind boggling: struck out 24 of the 45 batters he faced; struck out the side in order in three of his 10 appearances; given up no extra base hits; induced two double plays and even with a 100 mph fastball he has not hit any batters.
Calling up a pitcher from AA to the majors is nothing new for the Phillies. Back in 2007 the Phillies did just that with Kyle Kendrick. I’ll never forget that Kendrick threw a nine inning complete game with Chris Coste catching him for Reading and the next thing we knew he was in the starting rotation for the Philadelphia Phillies that year. Kendrick went on to be a the top pitcher receiving votes for National League Rookie of the Year and pitching in the post season.
No reason why “100 miles” Ken Giles can not come up from AA and pitch out of the Phillies bullpen in Citizens Bank Park right now.