Greene, Skubal earn first career All-Star nods

July 7th, 2024

CINCINNATI -- planned to surprise his parents by showing up unannounced at their home during the All-Star break. The Tigers’ outfielder has a better surprise in store for them now.

On Sunday, Greene, along with teammate , was named to the American League roster for the All-Star Game in Arlington.

Both were selected by the player vote. It is the first All-Star selection for either Tiger.

“They’re going to be excited, and I know they’re going to be proud,” Greene said of his parents. “They were talking about it at the start of the season. I’m like, ‘Guys, the season hasn’t even started yet.’ So, it’s cool.”

Greene is the first Tigers position player to be named to the All-Star roster since Justin Upton in 2017. Miguel Cabrera was a Commissioner’s selection in ’22.

The 23-year-old Greene was the fifth overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft. With Kerry Carpenter injured and Spencer Torkelson at Triple-A Toledo, Greene has been counted on to spark a Detroit offense that has struggled to score runs consistently.

Greene is batting .261 (85-for-326) with 17 homers and 45 RBIs. He and Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz, who was named to the NL All-Star squad, are the only Major League players with at least 15 home runs, 15 doubles and five triples this season.

Greene ranks in the top 10 among AL players in bWAR, total bases and extra-base hits. He also ranks among the leaders in Defensive Runs Saved.

“Being named is something that shows that you’re doing the right things, helping your team win, and playing well,” Greene said. “It’s an honor.”

Tigers manager A.J. Hinch had the pleasure of announcing the news to Greene, Skubal and the entire team in the clubhouse Sunday morning.

“Tarik and Riley were incredibly excited,” Hinch said. “Their teammates were incredibly supportive. They both get rewarded by the players which is even more meaningful. It never gets old delivering good news.”

Skubal’s first All-Star appearance is the first reward for a breakout season that has earned the 27-year-old southpaw serious consideration as an early AL Cy Young favorite. He entered Sunday ranked among the AL’s top three in wins, ERA, strikeouts and WHIP, while ranking fourth among AL pitchers in bWAR and FIP. And that's before he registered a career-high 13 K's in a seven-inning gem against the Reds Sunday afternoon.

“You kind of try to hide the emotion, but it’s special to be announced in front of the team, these guys that you go to battle with every day,” Skubal said. “I think Riley deserved it. I’m glad he’s on my team that I don’t have to pitch to him.”

It’s a fantastic success story for Skubal, a former ninth-round Draft pick who missed nearly a year while recovering from right forearm surgery but spent the downtime refining his arsenal.

“It means a lot,” Skubal said. “The players voted me in, so it’s cool to get that recognition, not only from fans, but from the players who play in this league. It is pretty special. For it to be my first one, and for Greeney, his first one too, I look forward to it.”

Skubal garnered attention earlier this season for hitting triple digits with his fastball, topping out with a 101.7 mph heater on June 9 during a 10-strikeout performance against Milwaukee. His addition of a nasty changeup and effective sinker to his combination of power fastball and nasty breaking pitches has made him one of baseball’s toughest pitchers to match up against, evidenced by a .183 batting average allowed to left-handed hitters.

Skubal is a strong candidate to start the Midsummer Classic. He’s on track to make his final start of the first half on Friday against the Dodgers, setting him up to be available for an inning or two on what would essentially serve as a side session under the bright lights of Globe Life Field. No Tigers pitcher has started an All-Star Game since Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer did it in back-to-back years in 2012 and ’13.

“The organization developed these guys,” Hinch said. “Neither of their journeys has been perfect. Tarik has worked his way to the top of the rotation, has gone through injury and is a better pitcher today than he’s ever been. Riley has had a ton of injuries and [high] expectations, and look at him now.”