Mariners reliever Ken Giles will be out a few weeks due to a tendon injury in the middle finger of his throwing hand, manager Scott Servais told reporters (including Corey Brock of the Athletic). Needless to say, he won’t be ready for next Thursday’s Opening Day.
The injury will delay Giles’ team debut for a bit longer. The right-hander underwent Tommy John surgery while a member of the Blue Jays in October 2020. The M’s signed him to a two-year guarantee the following offseason knowing he wouldn’t be available during the 2021 campaign. The backloaded contract will pay Giles $5MM this season, a bargain price if he can rediscover his pre-injury form. (The deal also contains a $9.5MM club option for 2023).
Giles was rocked in four appearances with the Jays in 2020 before he went under the knife. The New Mexico native never appeared healthy in that minimal look, though, as his average fastball velocity had dropped more than two miles per hour relative to the prior season. It’s probably fair to look past that showing, and Giles was nothing short of dominant during the previous campaign.
In 2019, the former 7th-round draft pick worked 53 innings of 1.87 ERA ball for the Jays. Giles averaged 97 MPH on his heater and fanned an elite 39.9% of opposing hitters. He saved 23 games that season, his third consecutive year locking down 20+ contests. Like most relievers, Giles saw his production fluctuate a bit season-to-season, but he posted an ERA of 2.30 or lower in four of his first six MLB seasons.
If he can regain anything near that form post-surgery, Giles has the potential to be a key late-inning arms. The Mariners surprisingly had one of the league’s best bullpens last year, a big reason they won 90 games. Paul Sewald, Diego Castillo and Drew Steckenrider offer Servais an excellent trio of end-of-game options, but Seattle will be without Giles for at least the first few weeks of the season. The M’s also lost Casey Sadler, who was one of their best relievers in 2021, for the entire season to shoulder surgery.