Effective pitching is about disrupting the timing of the hitter. You have to keep them on their toes. Changing location, changing looks, changing speeds. When everything you throw is fast, it makes things a little easier on hitters. Not necessarily easy, but perhaps easier. For Hunter Greene, everything he’s thrown in the past falls into the “fast” category. That could be changing in 2024.

In 2023 Hunter Greene averaged 99 MPH with his fastball, 91 MPH with his change up, and 87 MPH with his slider. He didn’t really throw the change up much – just 6.6% of the time – meaning that hitters really didn’t have to think much about it. But there was an interesting little tidbit from his rehab assignment in August. If you missed it, we wrote about it back then, but Greene started throwing a splitter while in Louisville. There weren’t many of them, and in fact he didn’t throw a single one in his final appearance (he made three appearances). When he returned to the big leagues he didn’t throw one, either, covering eight starts through the end of the season.

The splitter is another pitch that falls into the “fast” category. While the sample size for them is incredibly small, last season he averaged 88.4 MPH when he did throw it. Reds pitching coach Derek Johnson noted today to the media (Charlie Goldsmith of the Cincinnati Enquirer was the first to report it) in Goodyear that Greene was working on the pitch for this season. Here’s a look at it from his time in Louisville:

But Johnson also said that Greene was working on a curveball. That pitch is entirely new to Greene as far as we can tell. There’s no data from his time in the minors or majors that suggest he’s thrown one.

While some players throw slow curveballs and other throw them “fast”, it’s very rare for a pitcher to throw a curveball that’s truly “fast”. Only one starting pitcher averaged at least 84 MPH with their curveball in the 2023 season – Kyle Bradish (84.8 MPH). With Greene being one of the hardest throwers in the game, it’s possible he could be there in the mid-80’s with a curveball. It’s also possible that his curveball could be one of those power curves that guys throw in the low-to-mid 80’s. Sometimes that’s where his slider plays at, too.

For Greene, having something a bit slower probably helps him out. But having any third pitch he’s willing and capable of throwing more than five times per game probably helps him out just as much, if not more. To this point in his career he’s essentially been a 2-pitch starter. Yeah, the change up would flash itself every so often – mostly to lefties – but it just isn’t something he would regularly mix in against guys.

If Greene can add both a splitter and a curveball that he can use more than a few times per game, it would not only add the “slow hitters down” with the curveball, but it would also give hitters twice as many offerings to be aware of. Throwing strikes will matter, but Greene’s a guy who has shown good control throughout his career, but when adding new pitches you may need to see how it goes in games before you truly know how that aspect of it will go.

Hope springs eternal, as they say. With Hunter Greene’s upside, there’s a ton of hope that he can become a top of the rotation guy. He’ll probably need at least one of the two pitches he’s working on now to be one he can reasonably rely on to get there. If both become that… well, the Reds and Greene are both likely going to find themselves very pleased.

33 Responses

  1. H.B.

    It’s good to see that he is trying to become a pitcher instead of a thrower. This should have been a project to develop off speed pitches since the day he signed and not now at the major league level. Very few pitchers are able to get to the majors without something off speed. I wish him well but wonder why someone in his past hasn’t been able to prepare him for the big leagues sooner. Did he choose not to learn one because he didn’t think he needed an off-speed pitch or was this the team’s decision? Either way I wish him well and I’m glad to see this coming.

    • Melvin

      When you throw that hard you generally don’t need three pitches….until you reach the majors. 😉

    • MuddyCleats

      Spot on. Unfortunately, Typical development of many Reds Pitchers. Real benefit of changing speeds is hopefully getting weaker contact on fewer pitches – two things Hunter has struggled with.

    • Jeffrey A Yocum

      Hunter is a great kid. In every interview I’ve ever read, even going back to when he was drafted, he has talked about the work he puts into his secondary pitches. That is exactly what worries me. If he’s been working on development of secondary stuff all this time & this is the best he’s come up with, it seems troubling to me. His FB has always been too straight in my view. His slider, which he’s had from day 1, is below average in my view. He gets more swings & misses due to the speed change than the movement. He’s been working on the changeup for 2 full years now, & still has no real confidence in it for use in games. The elephant in the room is the fact that some pitchers, for whatever reason, are never able to develop good secondary pitches. Those pitchers typically find their way into the bullpen, exactly the way Aroldis Chapman did. Hunter Greene was supposed to be a generational talent & a player to build a franchise around. It all comes down to this. We’re anxiously awaiting the proverbial lightbulb to go on. If it does, he becomes a CY Young contender immediately. If not, he’s just another guy. Tick,tick,tick.

    • Reaganspad

      Cue Oldtimer post about Mario Soto here.

      Soto was a true 2 pitch pitcher, fastball change who was a warrior winning 18 games one season during a very bad stretch of Reds baseball. 1983 he has 17 wins and 18 complete games.
      In 1984, 18 wins for a team that was 70-92. I wish he would have been part of the 1990 team, because while Jose Rijo was a warrior, he was no Mario Soto. Rijo with the Nasty Boys behind him threw 7 complete games in 1990, his career high.
      Mario Soto was his own nasty boy. Best change I have seen short of bugs bunny

      I don’t know who first used that line, yogi?

    • Thatthathadhad

      Greene has four years left before FA. The Reds have absolutely wasted a rare talent here. It is hilarious that he is now trying to learn a curve and change up. He had one start last season where he lasted 3 innings and gave up five home runs. In the low minors they should have limited his use of the FB and forced him to perfect off speed stuff.

      We seen the same thing basics with Chapman and Iglesias. Robert Stephenson and Bailey were under achievers.
      Historically the Reds are terrible at developing pitching . Chris Gruler, Ty Howington, Nick Travesio, Nick Howard all former FRP that were a bust.
      Oldest team in baseball and never had CYA winner until trading for one. The drafts were basically as bad as their development. Picking guys like drew Stubbs ahead of Tim Lincecum who BTW had 2 or 3 CYAs

      • MuddyCleats

        Brett Tomko & Jack Armstrong r two more I would include. Proto typical RedsPitcher. Very much n the Gullett mode of hard fastball & little else. Plenty of arm strength & velo, but struggled learning how to pitch. Browning was a power pitcher as a rookie, but threw 263innings n his first full season n 85 & 241 n 1986. He became much more of a control pitcher thereafter having lost a lot of velo. Mike Remlinger was traded for n 1995? fm Mets. Another very strong arm, but struggled throwing strikes & pitching until traded to Atlanta n 1999 where Leo Mezzone / Braves made him an All Star closer. Remlinger became deadly spotting the FB & getting hitters out w/ a very good circle change; he learned to pitch!

  2. Mark Moore

    Hope does spring eternal, especially now that the full squad is in camp.

  3. MK

    The key to Hunter Greene’s prospect status was his velocity. Now it seem the secret of long term success seems to be slowing down. Kind of a head scratcher.

    • Jimbo44CN

      Not really, if it’s fast and straight, major leaguers are going to catch up to it and pound it. If it varies in speed and even better, location along with some movement, then that is going to make a big difference. They just have so much going on it leaves batters confused and guessing. That’s the whole pitching thing in a few sentences, at least in my mind.

    • TR

      In retrospect, it seems the Reds were a bit over- awed by Hunter Greene’s velocity when he was signed at a very young age. Now that he has some maturity, there’s a need for a variety in pitches to deal with major league hitters. Instead of Jose Rijo spending time with Eli on his offense, it would seem better spent with Hunter Greene and his need to develop pitches to contrast his velocity.

  4. SR

    He needs a pitch he can throw for a strike that is slower than his fastball and moves vertically. Change up, splitter, curve whatever but he needs a third one. And many folks on here have ask why he is just now experimenting with additional pitches. Seems like the Coaches should have been insisting on expanding his pitch options given it was obvious hitters were sitting on fastball.

    • greenmtred

      Hasn’t he been experimenting with a change for some time now?

    • Brian

      I don’t understand why people are surprised that Greene would be working on learning new pitches at this point in his career. Pitchers are constantly adjusting their offerings, changing their mix throughout their career. The entire league added a sweeper last season. I think pitchers try to avoid doing too much tinkering with pitches and mechanics during the season when the results matter–they focus more on their execution, routine, and keeping healthy. The offseason is when most of that kind of work happens. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Greene, just two seasons in, is working on becoming a more complete pitcher. Here’s hoping he succeeds!

  5. DataDumpster

    I can’t understand the Greene situation. Obviously, he is very impressive on the days where his control is pinpoint but just as often he gets tagged when the batter guesses fastball (not hard) or the slider doesn’t break much (some games often.) Ownership and field management are all in with financial commitment and praise but there has been a paucity of new skills shown the last few years. He and everyone else seem very confident and unconcerned but his record in aggregate has not been very good. Something is amiss, I don’t know what, but development seems lagging and/or indecisive. I don’t think he can be long term effective with only 2 pitches. Is it that difficult for a pitcher at his level to develop a somewhat better than average off speed pitch?

    • oklared

      I would recommend review Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson some time required for stew to reach perfection. Pitchers tend to mature and improve over first 3-4 years.

      • Old Big Ed

        Add Sandy Koufax and Jason deGrom to that. DeGrom never even made a pitch in MLB until his age 26 season.

        Greene’s problem is that he just hasn’t pitched all that much, through his age 23 season. He was drafted at 17, but hadn’t really thrown many innings in high school. Then he had surgery (which coincided with Covid), and didn’t pitch at all at age 19-20. He recorded 321 IPs after high school through his age 22 season. Justin Verlander, by contrast, who is about the same size as Greene with similar velocity, pitched 464 innings at ages 19-22.

        There is no reason to think a guy with Greene’s intelligence and work ethic won’t develop a reliable off-speed pitch. This is his age 24 season.

      • Indy Red Man

        You want to compare HG to Nolan Ryan?

        A. Nolan was a freak throwing 97 at 43 or whatever
        B. Nolan was a freak
        C. Angels/Houston Ryan was throwing 99 when the average heater was probably 90 at best.

        How about HG to Charlie Morton? Morton sucked and got it together. I doubt we get either because he’s GABP’d in the head. Straight 99 and he supplys all the power for a Gabp special. All those Toronto HRs in that 5 HR rout were GABP specials. Its in his head. We need groundball pitchers.

    • Jeffrey A Yocum

      Remember Aroldis Chapman? The Reds were eventually forced to scrap plans for him to be a SP for exactly the same reason. To this day, his slider is very erratic & non-competitive at times. It’s even harder nowadays to be successful with strictly velocity than it was back then, due to hitters becoming more accustomed to high velocity.

    • Old-school

      Keith law just came out with his top100 minor league prospects. 3 of the pitchers are older than Greene.

      I think he will continue to refine his repertoire. He and ashcraft are both quoted as saying they want to pitch deeper and longer into games and the season and save the pen. Hes bulked up and worked on conditioning and core to prepare

      See what happens

  6. RedFuture

    It shows that he lost time to the Covid year and the Tommy John. I’ve never thought his postgame comments have been on point about his performance either. I know he’s a mature young man but I hope he’s matured a bit more. He has to refine a 3rd pitch along with inducing movement on the fastball along with better command in the quadrants of the strike zone. Take more accountability for his performance even when Stephenson catches him.

  7. LDS

    Hopefully, one or more of these new pitches works out. Otherwise everyone will continue to be frustrated by Greene failing to live up to his potential. On the other hand, if they do, it’s going to be an interesting season.

  8. Melvin

    “Effective pitching is about disrupting the timing of the hitter. You have to keep them on their toes. Changing location, changing looks, changing speeds. When everything you throw is fast, it makes things a little easier on hitters.”

    So true.

  9. Michael B. Green

    Throw strikes. Get ahead in the count. Mix your pitches up and have the ability to locate in terms of strikes and chase pitches. DO NOT NIBBLE. Do not let catchers, pitching coaches, or managers let you turn 0-2 counts into walks or full counts. All of that sounds easier than done, but a 1st Rounder can absolutely due all of this. Finally, don’t live or die buy 4-seam fastballs up. Yes, you’ll rack up K’s, but you’ll lead the league in HR/9 too.

    • Old Big Ed

      Homer Bailey was the absolute king of turning an 0-2 count into a 8-pitch AB.

  10. DHud

    So this is what, 3 off-seasons in a row now that we’ve heard nothing but “Hunter Greene working on secondary pitch”

    And yet he just refuses to use it. Just throw the stupid pitch.

    • greenmtred

      It would be annoying if he threw it before it was effective, don’t you think?

      • DHud

        Beyond the idea that a $56m pitcher needs 3+ yrs to develop an “effective,” change up, ”effective” itself is even relative

        I don’t care if it’s not a swing and miss put out plus plus or whatever you wanna call it pitch, him simply showing the willingness to throw it at this point will have a massive positive just by forcing batters to consider it

  11. old-school

    Charlie Goldsmith has an article up about how is the Splitter is the new rage in baseball. Cruz, Montas, and Martinez throw it well. He pointed out that both Lucas Sims and Hunter greene never felt comfortable with the grip on the changeup so they are both pivoting to a split as a possible third pitch.

    Interestingly, Cruz is helping guys with the grip and is the Splitter Whisperer. That would be great if Sims and Greene could add it as a solid third pitch to add to their devastating FB/slider combo.