That was not a good performance by Ken Giles on Wednesday night.
No, the young man who can hump it up to 100 mph and consistently sits in the mid-to-upper 90s did not have his best stuff against the Red Sox. However, the team managed to hang on and beat Boston 4-2, despite Giles' 31-pitch eighth inning that almost cost the Phils the game.
We all know what Kenny G did last year for the Phils, going 3-1 with a 1.18 ERA and an fWAR of 1.7 while striking out 12.61 batters per nine innings and walking a scant 2.17 per nine.
But Giles struggled this spring, and his fastball has been consistently down 3-4 mph. He was pulled from an appearance late in spring training because of back problems. And last night, he was all over the place, walking three of the seven batters he faced, missing mostly up in the strike zone.
Now, it was cold and it was rainy and it was a nasty night to pitch. But given his back issue and his fastball velocity being down, it seems pretty obvious to the lay person that Giles is hurt. But don't let him hear you say that.
After the game, Giles disputed any talk that he's pitching through pain (quotes per MLB.com's Todd Zolecki).
"I'm physically fine," Giles said. "Nothing is wrong with me."
Manager Ryne Sandberg, never one to pry, said he's going to let his pitcher tell him when he needs to be sidelined for a while.
"He's just been down in his velocity," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "We'll just have to see. He said he feels fine."
I suppose at the moment everyone has to take Giles at his word. But the lack of velocity is alarming. His less-than-effective spring training is concerning. And it's important to remember that, throughout his minor league career, Giles has struggled with his control. So losing the strike zone, while it didn't happen much last year, is not a foreign concept to the young right-hander.
That said, Giles is one of the few bright spots and entertaining things to watch on this team in 2015. If there is a problem, Giles and the Phils staff would be smart to get him off the field now, let him rest, and bring him back in May or June fully healthy.
Also, not letting him throw 31 pitches on a cold, rainy night when you know he's had back issues and is struggling with his control would also probably be smart, too.