At the start of the season, our intrepid managing editor Rob Rogacki made a prediction most of the staff thought was hilarious when he said “Shane Greene will be the closer by season’s end.” Well, turns out Rob’s crystal ball worked on that particular prediction, because the Tigers have officially named Shane Greene as the new Tigers closer.
It’s been a tumultuous season for the Tigers bullpen, especially in regards to the closer role. The team started the year with Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez in the pen, but the “K” in his nickname soon came to stand for “Kicked to the Curb” as he was released on June 23.
The closer role then went to Justin Wilson, an obvious choice based on the incredible numbers he was posting. Numbers so good, in fact, Wilson soon became the hottest relief commodity on the trade market. In one of the best seasons of his career, Wilson had a 2.68 ERA, a 3.22 FIP, and an impressive 0.942 WHIP, with 13 saves in his brief time as a closer.
In the early hours of the July 31st trade deadline, Wilson was traded to the Chicago Cubs along with catcher Alex Avila, leaving the closer position up in the air for the Tigers. The bullpen has struggled all season trying to find reliable relief arms, and the closer role would require someone who could remain cool under pressure to get the necessary outs in a high pressure situations.
That role will now fall to 28-year-old right handed pitcher Shane Greene.
While Greene’s numbers haven’t been as good as Wilson, he’s seen more playing time this season than any other Tigers reliever, with 50 game appearances so far. He’s posting a 2.74 ERA, a 3.71 FIP, and a 1.217 WHIP. While he hasn’t netted any saves this year, he did secure two for Detroit in the 2016 season. (Though it should be noted saves are a deeply flawed metric to measure success by, and by no means indicate a closer’s actual skill.)
Greene’s strikeouts to walks ratio is a 2.00, an area he could stand to improve on, but ultimately the only way to know how well Greene will do in the role is to let him try. As far as options in the Tigers pen go, Greene was the most sensible choice for the Tigers to use, and time will tell how he adapts to the new high-pressure position.
The rest of us are just glad we didn’t put any money against Rob’s pre-season predictions.