Ken Giles isn’t worried about his fastball. The Phillies future closer has yet to hit triple digits on the radar gun but he has a win and has yet to give up a run. Giles average fastball in 2014 was a ridiculous 97.2 MPH. It’s down to 94.8 in April. But Giles says not to fear.
“I’m not worried about it at all,” Giles said. “I’ve yet to get loose up here. It may take the warmer weather to get loose. It’s not like I’m diminished. I’m still throwing hard. If you look around the league, guys aren’t throwing hard now like they will be in June. The cold weather is just brutal on the body. It’s tougher to pitch in this. It’ll get warm and you know what will happen. Everybody knows that our bullpen can throw 95 plus and that’s what we’ll do. We’ll get there.”
In the meantime Giles has improved his slider, which was plus last season. He works with it daily and it’s paid off since its much nastier than it was last season.
“I keep playing with it trying to find ways to make it better,” Giles said. “I’m constantly messing with it so it can be as effective as possible. I think it’s worked and I think it’s only going to get better.”
Giles tries to keep hitters guessing. Sometimes he’ll pitch backward. '“I’ll do whatever it takes to get ahead,” Giles said. “Sometimes I’ll surprise them. I know when they’re gearing up for my number one and then I’ll pop a slider for a strike. And then if I get ahead of them, I got them right where I want them to be.”
Part of the reason Giles has grown so much in a short time is due to the tutelage of Carlos Ruiz.
“Chooch has helped me so much,” Giles said. “He always sits with me after my outings and says, ‘alright, next time we’ll try this or you have to work on that.”
Ruiz smiled when asked about Giles. “He’s a special kid,” Ruiz said. “He’s only going to get better.”
That’s scary considering that Giles, who came up last June, finished third in the voting for NL Rookie of the Year and has already earned respect around the league.
“He’s really tough,” the Marlins Giancarlo Stanton said. “He’s a very good pitcher and he just came up last year.”
The soft-spoken Giles believes he can build on what he has to become one of the best relievers in the game.
“I’m excited about my potential,” Giles said. “I know I can be much better. I have things to work on and things to learn. I”m also excited about this bullpen. We’re solid top to bottom. We’re going to be an asset. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. Whenever we have a lead and it’s time for one of us to come in, I’m confident that we’ll win that game.”