Whether you cared about the results or not, there's no way to sugarcoat Shane Greene's start yesterday. It wasn't good. Facing the Orioles for the second time in less than 2 weeks and the third time overall this season, Greene's fastball command was not with him and the Baltimore hitters looked very comfortable in the box against him as they knocked him around and eventually out in a 6-run 4th inning.
The 3.2 innings pitched was the second-lowest total for Greene in a start since joining the Major League rotation and the second time this month that he failed to complete 4. It was only the third time in 14 starts that Greene gave up more than 4 runs, and as sour a note as that is to end a season on, it's also a reason to be optimistic about him going forward.
Greene will finish with a 3.78 ERA in 14 starts this year. That's 33 ER allowed in 78.2 innings pitched. Extract his 3 bad outings - 6 ER in 3.2 IP last night, 6 ER in 2.2 IP on 9/2 against Boston, and 4 ER in 5.2 IP on 7/21 - and you have 16 ER allowed in 12.0 IP, a 12.00 ERA. Now look at his other 11 starts. 66.2 IP and 17 ER, good for a 2.29 ERA. That's really good, much better than you'd anticipate from a midseason emergency call-up like Greene was. He had his few bad outings like every pitcher does from time to time, and as a young pitcher operating in the infancy of his Major League career it's understandable that he might not handle his bad days as well as a veteran pitcher might. But for the most part, he wasn't struggling to adjust or dealing with growing pains or any of the typical things that rookie pitchers go through. He was downright dominant.
This is a guy who struck out over 1 batter per inning (81 K in 78.2), which was better than he was doing in High-A and Double-A last year. This is a guy who had a higher swinging strike percentage (10.0%) and swing percentage on pitches out of the strike zone (34.0%) than the MLB average. Shane Greene was an afterthought in the rotation depth discussion at the start of this season and he was less than that when he was hurt and struggling in Triple-A in May and June. He ended up with numbers this season that were almost as good as his breakout numbers from last season, and he didn't start really pitching well until he got called up to the show.
I've mentioned it once or twice in the last few weeks, Matt dove deeper into it over the weekend, and I'll say it again more definitively right now. Shane Greene should 100% be a part of the rotation next year. I'm not going as far as saying he should be the #3 or #4 starter, but if he's the #5 then it shouldn't even be a competition. He's shown that he belongs at this level, he's shown glimpses of how good he can be, and he's shown more in 14 starts this year than David Phelps has in 40 over the last 3 years. If it comes down to those 2 for the final rotation spot in 2015, give me Greene every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
P.S.- If there is one area he definitely needs to work on, it's his ESPN promo picture face. Come on, Shane-o. You have to look better than this: