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Tigers' Shane Greene can't explain his recent struggles

Greene is a completely different starter than he was at the start of the season, and that's bad news for the Tigers.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

DETROIT -- If Shane Greene can't identify the difference between how he has performed in his first three starts and his last five, well, then perhaps it's time for a new approach. Look beyond the results, the poor starts, lack of control, or even what Tigers manager Brad Ausmus and catcher James McCann are saying. Greene doesn't know what's wrong, and that's a problem.

"If I knew the answer to that question, you guys wouldn't be asking me these questions, so, I don't know," Greene said following Wednesday's 12-3 loss to the Cubs.

This is Greene's fourth consecutive start in which he's given up multiple runs, and his third start in the last five games giving up at least one home run -- May 30 against the Angels he yielded five homers. It's a complete 180 from the pitcher Greene started the season as -- when he went eight, eight, and seven innings, respectively, allowing just one earned run in all with a measly 0.39 ERA and 11 strikeouts.

Greene's ERA in his last five games is a glaring 9.43. Put bluntly, he's struggling. Regardless of the pitch, be it his changeup, sinker, or his cutter, pitches are being left up in the zone and Greene is paying for it. He's not missing the strike zone so much as the command isn't there.

For his part, Greene said he actually felt better and the arm slot he'd been working on was improved, but the results didn't show. But for McCann, who has been catching the majority of Greene's starts, what's stood out is that Greene's sinker just doesn't have the same "stuff" that it had to start the season.

"I think the big thing is just not locating, not doing what Shane Greene does best, and that's utilizing the sinker down in the zone," McCann said. "We gotta find a way to get back to his strengths."

Finding Greene's strengths has been an ongoing endeavor and nothing's working. Ausmus wouldn't comment on whether the team would send Greene to Toledo to allow him to straighten himself out at some point -- or whether Greene would make his next start in Toledo or Detroit -- but after a prolonged slump and no answers, it's quickly become a real possibility.

Whether Greene does find himself in Toledo in the near future is a decision the Tigers can't afford to sit on for much longer. Options may be limited, but with a fluky offense to work with, and with those struggling in the bullpen, the team may not have a choice.

Right now, the less the Tigers see of the bullpen and Greene's shaky starts, the better. Unless Greene and the Tigers can figure out what's ailing Greene for over a month now, it's time to try something new, because the current approach clearly isn't working.

"This game we play is crazy," Greene remarked. "It will rip your heart out and stomp on it if you let it. I just have to show up every day and work my butt off to get back out there. It's trying to (rip my heart out) but I am not going to let it.

"It's tough, but I've been doing it my whole life. So like I said, just gotta take it day by day. I put in the work, and I work too hard for my results to be like this. So I'll be all right."