Phillies Notes: Flame-throwing Giles has a nasty slider, too

Rookie Ken Giles doesn't throw just fastballs.
Rookie Ken Giles doesn't throw just fastballs.
Posted: June 27, 2014

The first time Ken Giles struck out Miami's Giancarlo Stanton, he used a slider. That was Monday, and when Giles entered Tuesday's game, he again encountered one of the game's best sluggers. Stanton waved at two 88-m.p.h. sliders from the rookie Phillies reliever. Then, Giles fired a 98-m.p.h. fastball past Stanton.

"Good stuff," Stanton said a day later.

The powerful fastball is spawned the nickname "Hundred-Miles Giles" and endless hype in the minors. When he pitches, fans fix their attention on the radar-gun readings. But it is his slider, so far, that is most impressive.

"It's hard to put a good slider into play," Giles said. He smiled. "It's perfect timing. It came around, finally."

It is difficult to find fault in Giles' first six major-league appearances. The 23-year-old righthander struck out 12 of the first 21 major-league hitters he faced. He pitches with his hat brim pulled down, and he looks as if he belongs.

"Nothing seems to bother him," manager Ryne Sandberg said.

The fastball-slider combination is lethal. Hitters have swung and missed at 24 percent of Giles' pitches; the league average is 16 percent. They are 0 for 10 against Giles' slider with eight strikeouts. He has thrown the pitch 42 times. It has been put in play just twice - once for a groundout and another for an infield popout. Hitters have swung at and missed Giles' slider 15 times.

Giles gave up a home run to the first batter he faced and just one hit and two walks since. There will be adversity to overcome - hitters will make adjustments and Giles will have to counter - but he appears equipped to succeed at this level.

There is no deception, Stanton said, just talent. Giles is a difficult task.

"It's not necessarily hard to pick it up," Stanton said. "You're geared up for the fastball, so it's more difficult to be on the off-speed when you have to be on time for 100 as well."

No Phillies reliever has ever struck out 12 batters over his first six major-league appearances, according to a search. Wayne Twitchell (1971), Warren Brusstar (1977), and Ryan Madson (2004) fanned 11, all in more innings than Giles.

The slider is key. Giles said it was his top priority entering the season. There was some improvement in the minors.

"Once I got here, it just came easier," Giles said. "I really didn't think about it that much. I'll just spin the ball and let it do what it does. Just throw it. Don't think about it."

Extra bases

Cliff Lee (strained left elbow) will pitch a simulated game Friday at Citizens Bank Park. He could start a minor-league rehab assignment after that. . . . Righthander Brad Lincoln is likely to start the second game of Saturday's doubleheader against Atlanta. He has a 2.17 ERA in his last five starts at triple-A Lehigh Valley.

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