Giles taking steps forward in new bullpen role

Giles taking steps forward in new bullpen role

HOUSTON -- For the first time this season, reliever Ken Giles has two consecutive scoreless, hitless outings under his belt. Giles, who last weekend was moved into a lower-pressure role in the bullpen, threw a scoreless inning on Monday and came back on Tuesday to retire the only batter he faced to finish the sixth inning.

"Ken's been great the last two games," manager A.J. Hinch said. "For him to end his outings as positive as that, he's very focused on some of the adjustments he's making with his mechanics, his pitch selection, the shape of his pitches -- all good signs for him. He's a good pitcher and gone through the toughest stretch of his Major League career, and he'll come out of it in fine fashion, and he's proven that the last two outings. I have no concerns about Ken being a positive contributor."

Any step forward is a good sign for Giles, who's allowed 16 hits, including four home runs, and 10 earned runs in 11 1/3 innings. He began the season as the team's setup man but was removed from that role after giving up two runs in one-third of an inning on Friday in Oakland.

Despite the recent success, Hinch plans to keep Giles in his current role for the time being.

Will Harris, who's been steady the past two years, has settled into the setup role seamlessly, and closer Luke Gregerson has converted all 15 of his save chances this season.

"The way that things have shaped up the last few days, the way Will Harris is throwing the ball, the way Luke Gregerson is pitching, it's a little bit more need-based and not really based on Ken Giles at all," Hinch said. "He's a dynamic reliever, and having him at my discretion over the sixth, seventh inning, high leverage, medium leverage, low leverage, I just want him to get outs when he's used. It will creep back toward the innings and the outs where the game is on the line a little bit, and I'm prepared to do that anywhere from today to the rest of this homestand into the road trip."

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.