by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
In a somewhat surprising swap, the Astros and Blue Jays have exchanged their one-time closers giving both a fresh start for different reasons. The Blue Jays acquired a pair of intriguing young pitchers to go along with Giles (RHP David Paulino and RHP Hector Perez), both of which could ultimately be intriguing bullpen arms, but the big fallout comes down to the bigger names and the chances that they quickly claim ninth inning duties:
We aren’t going to talk about this deal in terms of the off the field issues, as he’s missed significant time due to a 75-game suspension and still faces charges for the incident. When he does take the mound there’s no doubting the talent. Since 2015 he’s racked up 104 saves while pitching to a 2.87 ERA and 0.92 WHIP. His carrying tool has always been his pinpoint control (1.61 BB/9), and while he had posted strong strikeout totals that number has dropped significantly this season (K/9):
- 2015 – 9.69
- 2016 – 9.97
- 2017 – 11.67
- 2018 – 7.63
His SwStr% was down, but still solid (11.7% in ’18 compared to a 15.2% career mark) and he was generating ample swings outside of the strike zone (42.2% O-Swing%). It was only 15.1 IP, but opponents were hitting the ball exceptionally hard against him (38.3% Hard%). The big difference may have been a reduction in the usage of his slider (11.66%, compared to 20.71% in ’17), especially since that was one of his most effective pitches over the course of his career:
- BAA – .139
- SLG – .244
- Whiff% (2017) – 32.12%
There’s no reason for concern and a change of scenery may ultimately be what’s best. While Hector Rondon has pitched well, it would be shocking if Osuna wasn’t quickly inserted into the closers role with Rondon operating as a safety net in case Osuna stumbles.
Giles had his issues on the mound this season, pitching to a 4.99 ERA, though it was still a surprise when he was sent down to Triple-A. He too was hit relatively hard (36.8% Hard%), though he was still generating enough strikeouts (9.10 K/9) and was showing the best control of his career (0.88 BB/9). Considering his 16.4% SwStr% the outlook should’ve been positive.
The issues were more due to poor luck than anything:
- Strand Rate – 60.8%
- BABIP – .366
He clearly represents the best option for the Blue Jays at closer for the remainder of the season, especially as pitchers like Ryan Tepera and Tyler Clippard have struggled. While the numbers are ugly, a turn around seems inevitable. Consider him well worth buying in all formats, as he could easily post strong numbers over the final two months.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball
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