2015 Fantasy Baseball: Pick Up Shane Greene
Even though the Detroit Tigers traded away one good, young starter in Rick Porcello this offseason, it seems they landed another solid youngster in Shane Greene, who came over from New York in the three-team Didi Gregorius trade.
In 2014, Greene’s rookie year, he started 14 of his 15 appearances for the Yankees, and he struck out over a batter an inning. The walk and home-run rates were so-so, but Greene induced grounders on just over half of balls in play and his FIP (3.73) and xFIP (3.40) were both lower than his just-fine ERA (3.78). Greene only once had a strikeout rate as high as his rookie year rate, and that came in just 19 innings in single-A ball in 2010.
Last year he got swinging strikes 9.9 percent of the time, which equaled Jon Lester‘s rate and was .1 percentage points better than Johnny Cueto and Zack Wheeler. Greene does throw hard and he throws five pitches, and he’s extremely unpredictable as seen by his approach against hitters with two strikes. Against lefties with two strikes he throws all of his pitches at least 10 percent of the time. So I think the strikeout gains can definitely be for real.
In the minors Greene had a career 48 percent ground ball rate, and that’s carried over to his time in the Majors. So far this season after two starts he has a 48.9 ground ball rate. That bodes well for him as the Tigers have two outstanding defenders – Jose Iglesias and Ian Kinsler – in the middle infield. It also helps to have Anthony Gose and Rajai Davis patrolling the outfield, at least one at a time. Perusing the Fangraphs player pages Yoenis Cespedes grades out as a neutral defender – but his strong arm is a deterrent to base-runners – while only J.D. Martinez is a negative in the outfield among starters.
Greene has pitched eight innings in each of his two 2015 starts, and both times he could’ve gone back out to finish off the complete game as he’s thrown just 85 and 81 pitches, respectively, in his starts. He has eight strikeouts and just one walk on the season, so while the strikeout rate isn’t as high as it was last year, the walk rate has been cut way down. Owned in half of Yahoo! leagues and in 45 percent of ESPN leagues – though those numbers will be higher in just a few hours – I think Greene’s startable in all 12-team leagues and deeper, and in 10-team leagues he’s worth at least streaming. I don’t expect a strikeout an inning, but 7 Ks per nine is doable with a mid-3s ERA and plenty of wins.