Greene nets 21 total whiffs in 2nd start back

September 23rd, 2022

CINCINNATI --  wasn't quite as sharp on Thursday as his electric return from the injured list last weekend. Considering his brief history against the Brewers this year, even being just a tick off sensational could be costly. 

Greene gave up two earned runs and two hits over five innings with three walks and eight strikeouts during a 5-1 Reds loss at Great American Ball Park. In his 22 starts this season, the 23-year-old is 4-13 with a 4.91 ERA. Against Milwaukee, he is 0-3 with an 8.00 ERA and nine home runs allowed in four starts.

"I still felt solid, felt really good. Those walks hurt me," Greene said. "Good hitting team. It’s always a battle when I face these guys, I feel like. They’re pretty good about hitting mistakes."

Opening the top of the second inning, Greene issued a four-pitch walk to Hunter Renfroe and was immediately burned. Next was Kolten Wong, who launched a 98-mph elevated 0-1 fastball into the right field bullpen for a two-run home run. It was the first of three homers in the game for Wong, who had all five RBIs for Milwaukee. 

"I thought it was a competitive pitch, but [it] just leaked a little bit over the plate, and he got the head out front," Greene said.

During Saturday's 1-0 Reds loss in 11 innings at St. Louis, Greene recorded a career-high 11 strikeouts during his six shutout innings as he returned from the injured list after missing 1 1/2 months with a right shoulder strain. He also broke his own records by throwing 47 pitches at least 100 mph and recording nine of his strikeouts on pitches over 100 mph.

Thursday, Greene retired his last seven batters and reached his game-high velocity of 101.4 mph on his 91st and final pitch for a fly out to right field by Willy Adames. 

"Not maybe as sharp with his command as he was in St. Louis," Reds manager David Bell said. "Still kind of working his way back and overall, still a good outing.”

The Reds’ only run came when  hit a two-out home run to left field against Brewers starter Brandon Woodruff in the sixth inning.

Despite a lackluster outcome, Greene still managed to reach new feats during the start. Of the 46 four-seam fastballs he threw that drew 29 swings, the 16 whiffs by Brewers hitters were a season high. The previous high of 13 was achieved in the previous start. His 21 total whiffs were also a new high.

"That’s why I think it’s funny: In the past, and I’m sure a lot of people even say it now, ‘Your fastball is straight,’ or ‘It doesn’t play like 100-plus,’" Greene said. "I always laugh at that because … I got a lot of whiffs and a lot of swings and misses throughout the year and my whole career on my fastball. I have a lot of confidence in that pitch, and I feel like I’m getting a lot better at locating it."

According to Statcast, Greene notched his first strikeout of the year on a changeup when he got Rowdy Tellez to look at a 91-mph pitch for a called third strike to end the top of the first inning. 

The changeup was used five times -- with four called for strikes. It's a pitch Greene has been trying to develop all season, and he used his Minor League rehab assignment to work on making improvements. 

"I know I’m going to need that pitch in the future," Greene said. "You watch all the great pitchers, they have that pitch and throw it with confidence and locate it well. For me, understanding that and embracing that and taking that challenge to find that pitch and be able to throw it well, throw it in any count. To have it as an out pitch too, that’s going to make the slider and the fastball that much better. It’s great to be able to rely on velocity and having a slider. But I’m trying to be the best version of myself, the best pitcher I can be. I’m running with that pitch and am excited to keep throwing it and keep getting better with it."