When your fastball is averaging 100 mph, that’s what people are going to talk about. That’s why everyone is talking about Hunter Greene.
But … what about that slider?
Sure, it helps your entire repertoire when the hitter has to be ready for triple digits every pitch. But Greene’s slider is nasty by itself. It’s just nastier when it’s paired with his fastball.
That pitch tunnel requires two components. You know all about Greene’s record-setting fastball already. Let’s take a look at the other half.
The early numbers are excellent
As overpowering as Greene is, he’s given up nine hits, including three home runs, through two career starts. All nine of those hits are off his fastball.
Opponents are 0-for-11 against Greene’s slider. They’ve struck out five times in those 11 at-bats, and whiffed on 47% of their swings against it. Greene is one of five starting pitchers holding opponents hitless on their slider through at least 10 plate appearances this season.
SP with 0 hits allowed on sliders in 10+ PA in 2022
Max Scherzer, Mets: 0-for-12, 6 K
Chris Bassitt, Mets: 0-for-12, 7 K
Hunter Greene, Reds: 0-for-11, 5 K
Tylor Megill, Mets: 0-for-10, 5 K
Chad Kuhl, Rockies: 0-for-10, 7 K
It can strike you out all on its own
Who needs a 100 mph fastball? In the second inning of his first start against the Braves, Greene faced Adam Duvall and did this.
That’s slider-slider-slider, good morning, good afternoon, good night.
And what a perfectly pitched at-bat. The first slider on the outside edge to force a swinging Strike 1, the second one just a tiny bit off the corner to induce the chase for Strike 2 and the last one even farther off to get Duvall to wave at Strike 3.
To that point, Greene had thrown two sliders in his first 21 big league pitches. Then he set up and buried Duvall with a trio of sliders that got successively harder to make contact with. That’s pro pitching.
He’s doing a good job locating it
Here’s a pitch chart of Greene’s slider locations so far.
He’s backed up a few to the arm side, but he’s mostly locating them nicely on the low-outside corner (to right-handed hitters, who he’s mostly throwing the slider against), or off the corner as a two-strike chase pitch.
Here he is punching out Dansby Swanson with a slider on the bottom edge of the zone, just inside the corner, and fanning Austin Riley on a similarly located pitch.
He can paint with the slider against lefties, too — like this called strike to Matt Olson to get ahead to start an at-bat. You can’t spot it up on the back door better than that.
Greene’s slider sat more in the mid-80s in his first start against the Braves (averaging 86.1 mph), but he turned it up to a harder version against the Dodgers (averaging 87.9 mph).
Those harder sliders have tight break, which produced one especially helpless swing from Freddie Freeman, who had already struck out against a 101.7 mph fastball when he tried and failed to protect the plate against a backdoor 90.5 mph slider for another K. But Greene can still make the slider fall off the table, like with one that fooled Chris Taylor earlier in the game.
Whatever form the slider takes, it’s swing-and-miss stuff. Keep that in mind when Greene takes the mound — the big fastball isn’t the only weapon.