Houston Astros Ken Giles: New Closer in Town


The Houston Astros are in full “win now mode after their championship window has opened before they even expected. One of their offseason goals was to add an impact backend of the bullpen arm, preferably a power pitcher that could shorten games. They addressed that  want is full swoop as they acquired fireball reliever, Ken Giles, from the Phillies.

Giles has only been a major leaguer for about a year and a half now, but his talent has become evident as he has become one of the top relief pitchers in the league already. Last season he entered as the Phillies setup man, at least until Jonathan Papelbon could be traded, and showed dominance in both roles. He finished the season with a , 1.80 ERA/15 SV/87 K/11.2 SO/9, making him one of the best fantasy producers as soon as he was given the closer job and especially in those leagues where Holds are awarded.

It was clear when Giles debuted that he had the stuff to become an elite closer as his mid-90s fastball and sharp secondary stuff was nearly unhittable. Giles would have had an even better season last year if the Phillies were more competitive and he could have appeared in more than 69 games. Now with the Astros, Giles should have plenty of chances to make his impact felt. The Astros looked poised for another solid season and by fortifying the bullpen they have further made that a possibility.

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Last season with Luke Gregerson as the full time closer, he was able to notch 31 saves with a 3.10 ERA. A very solid season for a career set up man and late round closer pick. While those stats are serviceable, Giles should be able to top those in 2016.

The Astros have not come out and labeled Giles as the closer yet, but they clearly did not give up two solid pitching prospects for him not to come in and close out ball games. Houston is one of the most sabermetric oriented teams, so it would not shock me if Giles comes in some games before the ninth, but why wouldn’t they just slot him into the ninth inning and let Gregerson thrive in his familiar set up role?

From a fantasy perspective, by the spring comes around Giles should be in prime position to be named their closer, making him easily one of the top 10 closers in the league. With his strikeout upside, which should easily creep close to the 100 mark this season, he should clearly be drafted in the very first waves of closers. I was a big fan of Giles last season and even more now that he is on one of the best teams in the league as we have seen with guys like Aroldis Chapman, it does not matter how good of a closer you are if your team has no leads to maintain.

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Drafters should be all over Giles again at drafts this season, so if you want him you will probably have to overpay some, but he very well may be worth the weekly advantage he would offer.

2016 Early Projections: 2.50 ERA/35 SV/95 K/10 Holds