One of the few bright spots for the Phillies over this woebegone season has been the emergence of reliever Ken Giles, who has been a revelation. The 23-year old flamethrower out of New Mexico has posted otherworldly stats since being called up in June. Thanks to a 100 mph fastball and a nasty slider, Giles has struck out 49 batters in just 34 and two-third innings with a ridiculous 0.92 WHIP. He was also part of the combined no-hitter, the first in Phillies' history Monday.
Giles tells Metro what it’s like to outduel NL MVP candidate Giancarlo Stanton, how he feels when the crowd responds to his triple digit heat and he reveals who he admired while growing up.
During spring training you had trouble with command. What adjustments did you make?
I just took what I learned in spring training and applied it. I made the necessary adjustments. In the minors I learned to locate my fastball and slider. I learned over the last few months that it’s about executing pitches. I also learned that if you miss your spot, not to dwell on it. You go to the next pitch. And when I got here, Chooch (Carlos Ruiz) and Wil (Nieves) are such great catchers. They’ve done a great job of mixing pitches.
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What’s been about as impressive as your fastball and slider is your composure. You gave up a homer to start your major league career but you didn’t let that bother you.
It’s a mental game and you can’t let anything rattle you. There are going to be times when things aren’t going to go your way. You have to clear your mind. You can’t crumple down.
You occupy the locker Vance Worley once called home. The greatest advice he said he received was from Roy Halladay, who told him that he to forget that last pitch.
It’s so true. You need to have a bad memory and just move on. That’s what I do.
But it’s impossible to forget your battles with Giancarlo Stanton, who you struck out three times in a week. What was that like?
That was one of my greatest challenges. I love challenges. I had to face him multiple times and you just don’t get better than him. It was one of those, who is better kind of deals.
When did you realize that you had such a gun?
I was always a hard thrower as a kid. It was one of those gifts. You can’t teach velocity. If you’re one of those people blessed with velocity. you work with it. I can’t teach anyone to throw 100.
When did you first hit triple digits?
Sophomore year of college. It was pretty cool.
Do you hear the crowd erupt when ‘100’ flashes across the board at Citizens Bank Park?
At times I hear it and It’s really cool. But I usually block things out and I’m in a zone. I know that speed is hyped and the fans love it. But it’s just not me that lights it up. Diekman hits 100. But speed is only part of it for a pitcher. The really cool thing is that I look around at the young pitchers on this team and man, we have a really good bullpen.
Who did you admire when you were a kid?
Randy Johnson was who I idolized. I loved his mental game and how hard he threw. Nothing rattled him and batters were intimidated by him. Hopefully I can do the same thing in my own way.