Blue Jays closer Ken Giles left today’s game with what the team described as right elbow soreness. Called in to preserve a 4-2 Toronto lead in the ninth inning, Giles retired the first two Rays batters he faced before allowing a Joey Wendle double and then two walks, and was then removed from the game. In a post-game chat with Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi and other reporters, Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said Giles would undergo an MRI to determine the severity of the problem.
Any elbow issue is a bad sign for a pitcher, of course, and Giles’ injury could be particularly troublesome given that he was bothered by that same elbow last season. Montoyo didn’t know whether Giles’ current problems were similar to his inflammation issues in 2019, which included an minimal IL stint in June and then a cortisone shot in late July that didn’t lead to a shutdown or another injured list placement, though the timing likely prevented Toronto from dealing Giles to a playoff contender.
Trade speculation continued to swirl around Giles heading into the offseason, and though that talk seemed to diminish once the Jays made some moves (i.e. the Hyun Jin Ryu signing) indicating a push towards contention in 2020, he certainly still stood out as a potential trade candidate if the club fell out of a postseason race. Of course, between the expanded playoff structure and the new August 31 trade deadline, it is hard to know if the Jays will consider themselves true sellers in any scenario besides a total collapse over the next few weeks of play.
A potential injury not only hurts Giles’ trade value and the Blue Jays’ chances of contending, but it also hurts his market value as the closer heads into free agency this winter. Despite his elbow concerns in 2019, Giles still enjoyed an outstanding season, posting a 1.87 ERA, 4.88 K/BB rate, and 14.1 K/9 rate over 53 innings in his first full season with Toronto.