Giles, 27, was originally acquired to be the Astros’ closer in a 2016 blockbuster that sent Vince Velasquez, Mark Appel, Tom Eshelman, Brett Oberholtzer and Harold Arauz to the Phillies. After an up-and-down first season in Houston, Giles looked to be emerging as the dynamic late-inning weapon the ’Stros had hoped to acquire in 2017, tossing 62 2/3 innings of 2.30 ERA ball with 14 strikeouts per nine innings against 3.4 BB/9.
The postseason, however, proved to be another story, as Giles yielded runs in all but one of his seven playoff appearances and eventually fell behind both Lance McCullers Jr. and Charlie Morton when manager A.J. Hinch was looking for late-inning relief options late in Houston’s eventual World Series run. The inconsistencies have carried over to 2018, as Giles had already largely ceded ninth-inning duties to Hector Rondon and will now carry a 4.99 ERA through 30 2/3 innings with him to Triple-A Fresno.
To his credit, Giles owns a superlative 31-to-3 K/BB ratio so far in 2018 and has allowed only two home runs on the season. But he’s also seen his hard-contact rate rise by roughly 10 percent and been generally more hittable, averaging 10.6 hits per nine innings pitched against last year’s mark of 6.3. Giles’ .368 BABIP undoubtedly has played a role in those struggles, but a spike in that regard should be expected when surrendering considerably more hard contact to opponents.
The tipping point for Giles may well have come last night. Given a three-run lead in the ninth inning, Giles allowed three consecutive singles to open the frame before being pulled by manager A.J. Hinch. A frustrated Giles visibly appeared to cuss as he left the mound, potentially at Hinch, though there’s been no confirmation of that. After the game, Hinch told reporters (Twitter link via Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle): “That stuff happens in the heat of battle. I didn’t hear anything. He can let me know if it was directed at me. … If it turns out it was at me, we’ll talk about it.”
From a service time vantage point, there’s little implication for Giles’ long-term future. He entered the season with three years, 113 days of service time and has already been in the Majors long enough to have surpassed the four-year mark. As such, he’ll still be eligible for arbitration twice more before qualifying as a free agent following the 2020 season, regardless of how long he spends in Triple-A.