Thursday, May 9, 2024

On Hype, Heat, and Hunter Greene


This week, it was announced that one of the top prospects in baseball, a flamethrower that no one can hit, will be activated in time for a start on Saturday. Imagine if you were just described that way two years ago, you're in the same division, and you've gotta go against him at some point.

Hunter Greene is a fascinating story, even this early in his career. As a prospect he made waves because of how hard he threw and how many people he could strike out. Then it turned out that it wasn't sustainable and he needed surgery. To this day he's yet to throw a full season's 33 games, and has only gone as far as 24...despite, y'know, never finishing with lower than 150 strikeouts in a full season. Greene reminds me of early Stephen Strasburg, in that the mechanics are there, and he can really mess with you with those speeds, even if the ERA is higher than it needs to be. Like, his current 3.12 ERA is his career lowest at the moment. He usually goes higher than 4. He's also never finished a season with a winning record.

So that's honestly the issue with Hunter Greene. He has extraordinary abilities and high velocity material, but he's yet to really spin together an excellent full season. This may have to do with not having a good team til about now, but if you're a good enough pitcher that doesn't have to be an excuse.

Right now Greene's one of the standouts for the Reds, he's got a 3.12 ERA, 47 Ks and a 1.5 WAR. What helps is that the weight isn't entirely on him, and despite a few rotation injuries there's still people like Andrew Abbott, Graham Ashcraft, Nick Lodolo and Frankie Montas who can be trusted to leg out full starts without bleeding too much. Montas just got activated and he's looking good again, which helps. The Reds have been hoping for Greene to be the central figure of a powerful rotation for a long time, and that seems to be what's in the mix at the moment.

Granted, the team's in 4th place at the moment due to the flickering life in the Pirates, which is only about to be further ignited by the weekend arrival of Paul Skenes. And yes, Hunter Greene must be looking at Skenes like he's looking at a past version of himself. Skenes is terrific, and damn near unhittable, but at this rate it's only a matter of time before he needs some sort of arm surgery. Skenes and Jones in the same rotation could be deadly, but how long will that last? Who's to say? 

Similarly, we've reached a rare moment where Greene, Lodolo, Ashcraft and Abbott are all healthy at once. Williamson's gonna be down for a while, but these four are not only healthy, but getting the job done for the Reds. And considering that they just got T.J. Friedl back, the Reds could go on a tear this month, even with the Pirates in full Skenes mode. So either way, something wild's about to happen in this division, and it's gonna be fun to watch.

Coming Tonight: His first contracted year with his new club went pretty poorly, but now he's gotten it together, and at the exact moment where the rotation needs him the most. 

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