Like so many of the young talent on the Cincinnati Reds, Hunter Greene showed flashes of greatness during his 2023 season. The Reds starter also showed inconsistency.
Greene opened the 2023 season as Cincinnati's Opening Day starter; a privilege reserved for the best pitcher on the staff. In terms of potential, there isn't a pitcher in the entire organization with more raw ability than Greene. But the right-hander fell short of expectations in 2023.
Maybe the expectations were a bit unfair for a 24-year-old entering just Year 2 of his major league career, but Greene has always been one to embrace the spotlight and take on the challenge that comes from being a former first-round draft pick. So let's put a grade on his second season in the bigs.
Reds report card: Grading Hunter Greene's inconsistent 2023 season
Hunter Greene, along with Graham Ashcraft and Nick Lodolo, entered 2023 with tremendous pressure to live up to the hype that was generated over the offseason. After all three showcased considerable potential during their rookie campaigns, Reds fans expected even more this past season.
Overall, Greene pitched well. But make no mistake, at the moment, the right-hander is not an ace. Greene's fastball is among the best in the game, but there isn't enough movement. And while Greene's slider can get a great deal of swing and miss, the flamethrower failed to locate it early and often last season.
Greene is going to give up home runs, that's comes with the territory when your fastball sits in the upper-90s with little to no movement. However, Greene struck out over 30-percent of the batters he faced, so he's going to receive a little grace when it comes to the number of gopher balls he gives up.
Quite frankly, when you put Greene's 2023 performance up against how he did during his rookie season in 2022, the numbers are eerily similar. The batting average-against, ERA, and WHIP are up slightly, but the FIP and xERA were a little lower than a year ago.
Hunter Greene certainly had his moments in 2023. The right-hander had four occasions when he struck out 10 or more batters, including a 14-strikeout performance agains the Minnesota Twins in September.
But Greene also had a handful of awful outings as well, including a game in August against the Toronto Blue Jays in which he surrendered five home runs and lasted just three innings.
Injuries really slowed any progression for Greene in 2023. He skipped a few starts due to a hip issue that would eventually land him on the IL for about two months. Then, after a stellar start, found himself missing more time on the COVID-19-related injured list.
Greene needs to become more consistent next season. In only eight of his 22 starts did Greene make it six innings or more. There were five occasions when Greene was lifted before getting through the fourth inning.
Hunter Greene signed a six-year contract extension with the Cincinnati Reds this past season, so he's in it for the long haul. The 2024 season will likely see Greene take the hill once again on Opening Day. Provided he's fully healthy, the right-hander could have an impactful season.