It's time to retire this false narrative about Reds starter Hunter Greene

Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Hunter Greene
Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Hunter Greene / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

Hunter Greene had, arguably, his best outing of the 2023 season on Sunday afternoon against the New York Yankees. The Cincinnati Reds starter made it through seven innings while striking out 10 batters and walking three.

Greene did allow two batters to leave the yard, but allowed only four hits on the day while also effectively using his changeup. The right-hander slugged out with one of the hottest lineups in baseball over seven innings and gave his team a chance to win.

Too many fans on social media have created the false narrative that Greene is a "thrower" and not a "pitcher". It's time to put that line of thinking to bed.

Reds starter Hunter Greene is a pitcher, not just a thrower.

Are there times when Hunter Greene becomes too reliant on his fastball? Sure, he's just 23 years old. Does the flamethrower need to continue to refine his craft and work on developing that third offering? Give me the name of a pitcher who doesn't.

But it's high time that everyone relax when it comes to judging Greene so harshly. Yes, he has aspects of his game that need work, but he's barely six weeks into his second major league season. Many fans forget that Greene missed a year of minor league baseball following Tommy John surgery and another due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Pitcher A

Pitcher B

177 IP, 183 K, 63 BB

175.2 IP, 233 K, 68 BB

4.47 ERA, 3.74 xFIP

4.51 ERA, 3.66 xFIP

The chart above is a comparison between two pitchers courtesy of FanGraphs. In 32 starts, Pitcher A compiled 183 strikeouts and 63 walks over 177 innings pitched. He owned a 4.47 ERA and 3.74 xFIP. In addition, this pitcher had a 9.31 K/9, 3.31 BB/9, and 1.47 HR/9 through his first year-plus in the big leagues.

Pitcher B has very similar statistics. In 34 games, this pitcher posted a 4.51 ERA and 3.66 xFIP with 233 strikeouts and 68 walks through 175.2 innings of work with a K/9 of 11.94, BB/9 of 3.48, and HR/9 of 1.64.

Pitcher B is the oft-criticized Hunter Greene while Pitcher A is two-time All-Star and former Cincinnati Reds ace Luis Castillo. A quick glance at these stats would tell you that both pitchers appear to have a similar trajectory at the beginning of their major league careers. Oh yeah, and Greene had 50 more punch outs at this stage of his career.

Reds starter Hunter Greene got through 7 innings on Sunday.

Another argument against Hunter Greene is that he never gets deep into ball games. There's merit to that argument, as the right-hander has pitched six innings or more 12 times in his 34 starts. Luis Castillo achieved that mark 15 times through his first 32 major league games, so once again, the gap isn't that dramatic.

Patience is the key when it comes to developing these young pitchers. Fans see the development of young stars like Spencer Strider and immediately assume that a pitcher like Hunter Greene, who was taken with the 2nd-overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, should be in lockstep with a pitcher like the Braves ace.

Given that Strider had some measure of college experience and is a year older, perhaps Greene is right on target. Like Strider, Greene relies heavily on his fastball/ slider combo and is working to develop his changeup.

According to Baseball Savant, Greene went to his changeup 12 times on Sunday. That's more than his two starts combined against the Chicago White Sox (6) and New York Mets (2) earlier this month.

Hunter Greene must make improvements if he hopes to reach the level of a Spencer Strider or Luis Castillo, but he's not as far off as some want to believe. It's time to retire the notion that Greene is not a pitcher and just a thrower. Rather, he's a young player who's making adjustments each time he steps onto the mound.

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