Ausmus willing to use Greene in variety of ways

Reliever on pace to set career high in appearances

July 22nd, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS -- When Detroit's bullpen phone has rang this season, more often than not it's been for reliever .
Greene was the second Tigers reliever called upon during Friday's 6-3 victory over the Twins at Target Field. He was tasked with getting the final two outs in the seventh frame, which he accomplished in eight pitches. It marked Greene's American League-leading 47th appearance, one more than of the Indians.
"I don't think everyone [can do it]," Detroit manger Brad Ausmus said prior to Saturday's game against Minnesota. "I still need to be careful when I use him. I just trust him so much in a variety of roles, it's hard to not use him."
Greene has sat near the top of the league for most of the season in games pitched, but he hasn't necessarily logged an overwhelming amount of innings. Entering Saturday, 15 AL pitchers had more frames on their respective 2017 resume. Greene entered play Saturday with 43 2/3 innings of work and a 2.89 ERA this season.
But that's mostly a credit to his ability to adapt in a variety of roles. Entering Saturday, most of his appearances had occurred in the seventh, in which Greene had pitched in 24 games. He had 14 games in the eighth inning under his belt, but had also appeared in the fifth (five games) and sixth (eight games).
"I try to not use him as long, if possible," Ausmus said. "Yesterday was just a couple outs. So we still need to be very aware of how many appearances he has."
The 47 appearances is three shy of matching his career high, which he set last year with Detroit. Greene, who is in his fourth Major League season, has never pitched more than 83 2/3 innings in a given year. Still, the Tigers believe he has actually gotten stronger as the season has gone on.
According to FanGraphs, Greene had a left-on-base percentage of 81.8 percent before Saturday, a vast improvement from his 56.4-percent clip he posted last year. Greene's strikeout rate of 25.4 percent this season was also up from last year's mark of 23.1 percent. His opponents' batting average of .191 and a .252 BABIP were also lower than they've ever been.
"He takes very good care of himself, which doesn't hurt," Ausmus said.

Worth noting
• Tigers first baseman (right clavicle) got Saturday off. Cabrera was pulled from the game in the fifth inning on Friday after taking a grounder off the chest. According to Statcast™, the groundout had an exit velocity of 103.1 mph.
"We are going to give him another day, he says he is still sore," Ausmus said. "I was leaning towards it anyway, but he said he was still sore."