NOTE: The views expressed in this EDITORIAL do not necessarily reflect the views of Detroit Sports Nation or a majority of its writers and should not be misconstrued as such. The views contained within are the views of the author and the author alone.
The Detroit Tigers have had a less than stellar year. However, one of the bright spots from 2017 has been the emergence of Shane Greene as a closer. After the drama and downfall of Francisco Rodriguez, Greene waited patiently behind newly minted closer Justin Wilson. After Wilson was traded to the Chicago Cubs in a trade deadline sale, Greene was named the closer by Brad Ausmus and we were finally off to the races.
For the Tigers, I believe, the future is now with Greene. Detroit has many quality veteran pieces in their lineup. While the record might indicate otherwise, this team can still rebuild and compete at the same time. In my opinion, Shane Greene is a big part of that process.
Strength and Stats
Greene has been very successful as the Tigers closer so far. Especially for someone with limited experience in the role. He has started off hot in the first couple of weeks as the full-time closer.
At 3rd, entering tonight's game, both Shane Greene and Matt Belisle were tied for MLB lead w/ most consecutive scoreless inn. pitched (15.1)
— TwinsRadio (@TwinsRadio) August 13, 2017
Another key element to his success has been durability and stamina.
Shane Greene has been Tigers closer for about 4 weeks. He now leads AL in 5+ out saves with 3. Only Raisel Iglesias (8) has more in MLB.
— Jason Beck (@beckjason) August 27, 2017
3 of 5 of Shane Greene's saves have come while pitching more than one inning.
— Jeff Roberts (@EyeOnTigers) August 27, 2017
Greene is a quirky guy and this helps him on the mound. His attitude and confidence can be downright intimidating to opposing hitters. He told the Detroit Free Press as much in a recent interview about his mental approach to closing out games.
“I’ve always said that as a starter, I want to show up to the park on my start day and my teammates think we’re going to win,” Greene said. “And if I was ever a reliever, when I ran out of the door in the outfield, then my teammates knew whatever the situation was – and now that it’s going to be closing – the game is over. And that’s my goal.”
Here’s another example of Greene becoming more and more confident late in games.
Shane Greene: "Hitters have no names, no faces. If I make my pitch, I'm going to come out on top most of the time."
— Chris McCosky (@cmccosky) August 27, 2017
Speaking of quirky – check out this video. Nevermind the devastating slider…check out his socks!
— Platano Power RD (@PlatanoPowerDO) August 13, 2017
The below interview tells you all you need to know. Shane put it perfectly: “I love it. I live for this.”
— FOX Sports Detroit (@FOXSportsDet) August 27, 2017
If there’s anything that the Tigers need to help the team turn around, it’s positive vibes and support. Clearly, the fans (and eventually the players) were not ‘all in’ regarding KRod at the end. The tweet below is not particularly scientific, but, it does indicate at least some ground swell of support in the direction of Shane Greene.
— George Sipple (@GeorgeSipple) August 13, 2017
Perhaps, more importantly, is the support of team management including Ausmus. This was indicated very clearly in an article with the Detroit News.
“He’s the obvious answer,” Ausmus said. “He’s pitched the best of the guys that are still here. He’s going to get an opportunity to close out games and we will try to mix and match to try to get it to him.”
Ausmus and the team have been committed to giving Greene the opportunity to get experience in the closer role, even manipulating relievers ahead of him. This can only be a good thing for Green’s development.
It sometimes feels like the Tigers roster is so loaded on paper that revamping the team isn’t the best option. However, Ausmus went out of his way to manipulate the bullpen in order to use have Greene close games.
“We will pitch anybody anywhere at this point.”
This shows the commitment that the team has already made allowing him to audition and find his own way regarding the full time closer role. I’m looking forward to seeing him start the 2018 campaign locked in as the full-time closer.