The Houston Astros made news recently after they demoted former-closer Ken Giles to triple-A.
This was the end of the line for Giles, who has struggled the entire year from the back end of the bullpen. He does have talent, but he has been plagued with inconsistency.
This isn’t the first time that fans have seen Giles struggle, however. He had an ERA over four in his first season as an Astro in 2016. He had a strong regular season in 2017 until regression hit in the playoffs. In just 7.2 innings, he allowed 17 baserunners and 10 ER and became an untrustworthy piece for A.J. Hinch at the most inopportune time.
Giles’ struggles have bled into 2018. He has posted an unsightly 4.99 ERA and 1.275 WHIP in 30.2 innings. After allowing three runs without recording an out against the Oakland A’s back on July 10, Hinch removed Giles. After Hinch’s decision, Giles was seen directing an expletive towards his skipper. These events combined to make the Astros realize that they were over Giles.
According to FanGraphs, Giles has not been great with regard to high-leverage situations this year. For the foreseeable future, the Astros need to replace Giles with a better player.
With Giles gone, the Astros need to find another high-leverage player. Héctor Rondón has filled in for Giles admirably, but the Astros still need to add another player. It would be best for the Astros to add another good reliever and keep their players in their original roles instead of shifting everyone around.
Another solution would be for the Astro’s acquisition to take over Rondón’s original role. Either way, the team would be replacing Giles with an elite reliever, which would further strengthen a strong bullpen.
A lefty would be preferable, as Tony Sipp was the southpaw in the bullpen until recently. The Astros were strongly linked to Brad Hand for the past year-and-a-half, but with him off-the-board, Zach Britton is an obvious choice. The Astros had a deal in place to acquire Britton last year, however, the Orioles’ owner soon stepped in and broke up the agreement.
If recent reports are true, then the Astros might soon be out of the running to acquire the lefty.
Yankees are moving closer to a deal for Zach britton. intense negotiations is the word.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 25, 2018
However, Britton is currently still available, and the Astros should pull out all the stops to get him. He looked shaky in his return from an Achilles tear, but he’s had a near 180-turn since June 30.
Britton has experience as a closer, and if he continues his upward trend and reaches his pre-injury form, he’d make a lights-out bullpen the best in the game. If the Yankees do acquire him, however, then the Astros should stick with Rondón and instead go after a player such as Jose Leclerc, Kyle Barraclough, or Adam Conley.
Leclerc would be expensive because of his youth, team-control, and elite talent. However, he would be worth it. The 24-year old has a career 2.92 ERA and 126 punchouts in 95.1 innings, but in 2018 has a 2.06 ERA, .971 WHIP, and 51 Ks in 35 innings
Barraclough has a 2.45 ERA, but that number has been inflated due to allowing five earned runs in .2 innings last time up. Going to the Astros would not require Barraclough to be ‘the guy,’ as he currently is in Miami.
Adam Conley is another Miami Marlin who has been an excellent reliever this year. He made the transition to the bullpen after 2017 and has seen a different rate of success. His fastball’s velocity is up almost six MPH, which has helped him post a 2.63 ERA in 27.1 innings.
Britton would be an ideal choice for the Astros. If he’s off the board, however, the Astros must continue a strong push for another late-inning man.
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