Although they are in striking distance of the division lead in the National League Central, not much national attention is on the Cincinnati Reds. Nor should it be given their 26-30 record and just a general lack of excitement surrounding the franchise the last few years. When Hunter Greene is pitching, though, this team is must-see for baseball fans.
In fact, those who tuned into Thursday's road game against the Boston Red Sox witnessed the 23-year-old flamethrower enter rarefied air. En route to drawing a no decision in Cincinnati's 8-2 loss, Greene threw eight strikeouts to become the fourth fastest pitchers to record 250 career Ks as a starter, according to ESPN Stats & Info. Only Spencer Strider, Corbin Burnes and Kerry Wood reached that milestone faster than this rising hurler, since the mound was moved in 1893.
Strider leads the MLB with a whopping 106 strikeouts in just under 64 innings pitched. Burnes hit the mark during his 2021 Cy Young season. And Wood tied the record for most Ks in a single game with 20 in his rookie season. Those are all strong indicators that Greene could be an absolute force in the years to come. Perhaps even this year.
The No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft weathered some early growing pains in his 2022 rookie campaign before harnessing more control over his highly acclaimed fastball. He has been spotty in 2023 but looks to be taking the next step with a 3.92 ERA in 12 starts. His 88 strikeouts rank fifth in baseball and will continue to be the prominent feature in the young righty's game.
The Reds clearly see abundant promise in him, locking up Hunter Greene to a six-year, $53 million contract in April. Regardless of the team's current outlook, fans can take solace in knowing that their guy is doing things only a few All-Star and Cy Young-caliber pitchers have accomplished in the last 130 years.