MILWAUKEE -- The Reds’ 2022 season has been downhill since opening weekend against the Braves. After starting the season 2-2, Cincinnati has now lost 20 of its last 21 games and can’t seem to find their footing.
With a 10-5 loss on Thursday against the Brewers at American Family Field, the Reds (3-22) tied the second-worst start in a team’s first 25 games of a season in Major League history -- only the 1988 Orioles (2-23) won fewer of their first 25 games.
It’s a tough pill to swallow, but it’s also a chance for rookies like Hunter Greene to learn from their early season mistakes.
“There’s things to learn every time out,” manager David Bell said. “The biggest test he had today, he passed. He didn’t back down and kept coming back after them. That was definitely one really important thing that came out of today.”
No one said the big leagues were easy, and that realization came true for Greene in his shortest outing yet. He went 2 2/3 innings, giving up career-highs in hits (9), runs (8) and home runs (5). The rookie also matched his career high with seven strikeouts.
"It's just one of those days,” Greene said. “I can't really do much else but keep a positive mindset and continue to attack."
It’s the type of performance that the right-hander can learn from -- and then forget.
“You have games like this -- and obviously it's been a lot more than I wanted -- but just keep learning and moving,” Greene said. “[I] 100 percent learned a lot from this.”
Greene has the talent to turn it around after the early season woes. He was a UCLA commit as a freshman in high school and before forgoing college to declare in the 2017 MLB Draft, during which he was selected second overall.
His 8.71 ERA on 28 hits isn’t the start that the 22-year-old expected, however, there have been signs of his potential. Greene has an electric fastball and can mix in his slider. But on Thursday, the rookie failed to establish a balance between the two.
“This is part of what it is to become a Major League player, going through things like this,” Bell said. “This is all very, very normal. It’s still extremely early in his career. There are so many things he’s going to go through. He’s going to have tough outings. It’s all part of it. You can learn a lot during those times.”
In the first inning, Greene gave up three runs (two home runs) on his fastball. In the second inning, he went away from the four-seamer and leaned on his slider. He allowed two hits and two runs on it, which was surprising because batters were hitless against Greene’s slider in 25 at-bats to begin the year. That changed, as the Brewers were 2-for-5 with a home run and a double against the pitch.
“Hunter didn’t have his best secondary stuff today,” Bell said.
From Greene's short outing, a positive emerged -- his rejuvenated fastball velocity. In his start against the Dodgers on April 16, Greene threw a record-breaking 39 pitches 100 mph or faster. But he followed that up with two performances during which his fastball averaged 96.2 mph and never touched 100 mph.
Greene got his velocity back on track by hitting 100.9 mph with an average of 98.1 mph.
“He had a good fastball today,” Bell said. “The times I looked up, there was variability in the speeds and that’s a good thing too. The problem wasn’t the velocity today.”
“He's got a great arm, he's got really good stuff,” Brewers’ outfielder Christian Yelich said.
These are the learning curves that happen in the big leagues. Greene has embraced them.
“Days like this are going to happen and you just have to keep pushing,” Greene said.