The Detroit Tigers bullpen looked better in 2016 than it has in recent memory. Part of that was because of the unexpected addition of Shane Greene.
Ever since the Detroit Tigers got Greene in a three-team trade with the New York Yankees and Arizona Diamondbacks, the Tigers thought he was going to be a consistent starter. But, his fingers had a mind of their own.
The consistent blistering of his fingers cut down on the number of pitches he could throw in one game. His sensitive fingers sealed his fate and put him in the bullpen as a reliable reliever. And his hard work and consistent performances made him one of Brad Ausmus‘s go-to guys in late innings.
Greene began his third season in the Major Leagues pitching in the 11th inning in the first game of the season against the Miami Marlins. He performed in his typical style, inducing two ground balls and one pop up. After that, he started in three more games in April and was not seen again until June where he made his true first appearance out of the pen.
As a starting pitcher, he developed a powerful arsenal that consists of a cutter, slider, four-seam fastball, and a sinker. Most bullpen pitchers tend not to have that many different options.
Solid Relief Pitcher for a While
Greene was switched to a reliever after the start of the season due to his blister problems. He pitched in 50 games this year. He finished the season with an ERA of 5.82 which was above the average 2016 bullpen ERA of 4.22.
Greene affected that average bullpen statistic. Greenie had a good cutter, but in the second half of the season, he seemed to lose control of it. In fact, his best numbers were in July, when his cutter was on. In July, he posted an ERA of 0.93. He faced 38 batters, allowed 5 hits, and 1 run. He struck out 10.
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Unfortunately, August and September occurred. Greene was an entirely different pitcher in the late months. He finished those two months with an ERA of 8.49. He faced 107 batters who had 22 runs scored against him. He did strike out 24 of the batters he faced, but all too many scored.
Greene’s Speed & Pitches
Greene finished the season throwing his full arsenal of pitches. According to Fangraphs, Greene threw his fastball 40% of the time. His secondary pitches were hardly secondary as he threw his cutter 37% of the time. Greene used his slider 19% of the time and his curve less than 2% of the time. The fastball averaged 94 MPH while his cutter comes in at an average of 89.2 MPH. To be more effective, a bump in his fastball speed would be useful.
With Al Avila talking about trading players this off-season to make the team younger, fans could be seeing Greene back in the rotation in 2017. But, only if Greene’s fingers toughen up. He could become a member of the rotation if Al Avila trades away more expensive pitchers like Anibal Sanchez and Mike Pelfrey. If the hot prospect Joe Jimenez makes his way to Detroit, Greenie’s role in the bullpen could move to the middle innings, rather than the late ones.