Houston Astros relief pitcher Ken Giles was optioned for Triple-A on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Giles relieved Joe Smith in the 9th inning of a 4-0 game against the Oakland A’s. He gave up three straight singles and recorded zero outs before being pulled by Astros Manager A.J. Hinch.
As he was leaving the mound, Giles was picked up by the camera’s mouthing something that looked very much like “F**k you man.” There is speculation that this move from Giles is part of what contributed to him being demoted on Wednesday. We’ll let you decide what he said.
To all of this I say:
Completely worth it!
There is no pitcher in the entire world at any level that enjoys seeing their head coach walking out to the mound. Sure, the coaches love it. Strolling out there like the cock of the walk. Ohhhh the big bad important manager has come out here to take the precious baseball and hold it for 20 seconds with a scowl while the reliever putzes in. How in the world would the relief pitcher know where the stinkin’ ball was if the Great Manager wasn’t there to hold it like he owns it and place it in his fingers like he’s doing him a favor?
And don’t get me started on pitching coach visits.
“Alright fella, instead of walking this guy, let’s try and get him out. Credit to me for recognizing that strategy change”
Baseball coaches do most of their work in preparing the players for the games. There is not so much to do during the in-game action for them. And surprise–many of them don’t like not doing anything!
So what better way to involved in the game than to interrupt the pitcher’s mindset and rhythm so you can tell them to “just focus on this batter” or “try and get a ground ball here.” Gee coach, would a double play be beneficial to us here with a man on first and one out? Genius! Hadn’t even considered it! Nothing gets by this guy!
This Is Likely Just a Performance Issue
It’s fun to pretend that Giles was sent down for tossing an F-bomb at his manager. In reality, it’s much more likely this move has to do with his recent performances. Giles had a rather impressive season in 2017, converting 34 of 38 save opportunities with a 2.30 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP. In 2018, thing haven’t gone quite as smoothly.
Though Giles has converted all 12 of his save opportunities this year, it is with a 4.99 ERA (highest of his five year career), a 1.27 WHIP (second highest of his career), and a noticeable loss of feel for his fastball/slider mix. This loss of feel coupled with his tendency to be very emotional while on the mound has caused some concern for the Astros in end-of-game situations, where focus is paramount and any little mistake can cost you the game.
Even as Giles has been reported to be frustrated with the demotion, it’s hard to picture him not resurfacing before too long. He has a fastball routinely in the upper 90’s and a slider that breaks late and straight down. Giles simply has too much talent and electricity in the tank to not be making contributions in the big leagues. Look for him to be Houston’s closer again by early August.
And if not? Minor League baseball has plenty of coaches in the minors that could stand to be told to go fuck themselves. And I can think of no better candidate.
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