The Atlanta Braves non-roster invitees list for spring training included some surprising names, including top prospect Hurston Waldrep. Waldrep projects as a high-usage relief pitcher at first, if not a starting pitcher once he develops his secondary pitches a bit.
However, we are not here to discuss Waldrep. The Braves list included another surprise in the form of relief pitcher Ken Giles, who is attempting an MLB comeback. Giles hasn't pitched since 2022 and made just five appearances that season with the Seattle Mariners. He called it quits shortly thereafter.
Giles last full season came in 2019 with the Toronto Blue Jays. There, he recorded a 1.87 ERA in 53 games, paired with 23 saves. It was arguably his best season. At his peak Giles was one of the best relief pitchers in baseball. From 2014-19, he had a 2.67 ERA and striking out one-third of his opponents against a 7.5% walk rate, per MLB Trade Rumors.
Where does Ken Giles fit in the Atlanta Braves bullpen?
The Atlanta bullpen was considered a possible pain point entering the offseason, but Alex Anthopoulos has (unsurprisingly) taken care of that. New additions Aaron Bummer and Reynaldo Lopez should fill in the later innings. That leaves a player like Giles battling for either a minor-league spot, or as a middle innings eater.
Giles has the stuff and experience to compete at the MLB level. He has to shake off the rust, however, and struggled to gain much traction post-COVID season.
Giles worked out for MLB teams this offseason, garnering some minor interest from squads looking for cheap bullpen help, including the Chicago Cubs. However, the Braves won out for several reasons, including an invite to spring camp and allowing Giles the chance to compete for a middle-innings spot in their bullpen.
If Giles can turn back the clock to 2019, he'll be a valuable addition.