LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Ken Giles has saved 49 regular-season games in 58 chances in two seasons since joining the Astros and his overall body of work as closer has been solid, even if he's walked the tightrope enough times in the ninth inning to kindle some uneasiness.
Giles' woeful postseason performance -- he lost two games while allowing 10 runs and 12 hits in 7 2/3 innings -- forced manager A.J. Hinch to keep him in mothballs for Games 5, 6 and 7 of the World Series, but the team says it remains committed to Giles as closer despite its search for bullpen help.
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said Tuesday at the Winter Meetings that he's hopeful to finish a free-agent deal with at least one relief pitcher soon, but said nothing was finished. The Astros have made multiple offers to multiple pitchers, he said.
"There's still a lot of options out there and still other players we might make offers on, but we're kind of going down the list in order of priority," Luhnow said.
Some of the free-agent arms the Astros have discussed at some point this winter are lefties Jake McGee, Tony Watson, Fernando Abad, Jorge De La Rosa, Brian Duensing and Tony Watson and right-handers Addison Reed, Joe Smith and Anthony Swarzak.
While the Astros need quality left-handed depth, adding a quality reliever -- right-hander or left-hander -- is a priority. In fact, Luhnow has been telling agents that players won't step into a certain role if they sign with Houston.
"You're coming in to pitch important innings towards the end of the game," he said. "There's other guys doing that and we're going to mix and match based on what makes sense, but I have confidence Ken Giles is going to be one of the very key relievers at the end of games for us and in doing so rack up a fair number of saves."
Hinch, of course, isn't married to typical bullpen roles and often lets the hitting matchup and game situation dictate which relievers he uses and when. Still, an effective Giles remains crucial to an effective bullpen in Houston. Traded to the Astros from the Phillies two years ago Tuesday, Giles has a 3.23 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 185 strikeouts in 128 1/3 innings in two years in Houston.
"Ken Giles will be fine," Hinch said. "I think in our sport, we can get a little bit narrow-minded when it comes to maybe what a guy's recently done and say that's going to automatically define him, probably both good or bad. And the longer look at Ken Giles, he's been a very effective reliever. He's a good closer.
"He had a rough stretch on the national stage in a front of a large audience, but it doesn't make him any less equipped to be an elite closer. I think his stuff is top-notch across the board. I think it was frustrating for him in the World Series to not be delivering the outs that he delivered during the season, but emotionally, physically we expect him to be fine. I expect him to be elite again."
Luhhow hinted Giles' workload may have been a factor in his postseason struggles, but the Astros are hopeful help will be on the way soon.