I have good news and bad news about Shane Greene coming out of the 2020 season. Since I can’t ask you which you’d like first, I’ll start with the good news because the whole piece works better that way.
The good news is that Greene had an excellent and encouraging bounceback season in 2020. After posting a 4.01 ERA and 1.216 WHIP in 27 appearances for the Atlanta Braves in the 2019 season as a trade deadline acquisition, Greene was incredibly reliable in 2020. He was good for a 2.60 ERA, 1.120 WHIP and carried a sub-1.20 ERA into mid-September, when he got roughed up by the Mets. Both before and after that outing, Greene was a stalwart.
Deeper in the numbers, his walks, hits and home runs per nine innings were all down, and his ERA+ also bounced back nicely. His strikeouts per nine innings were below his career average, but that doesn’t have to be a huge concern if he’s keeping runners off the bases in other ways.
Greene’s postseason numbers in 2020 continued the positive trajectory. He carded four scoreless outings before giving up his only playoff run in a 1 1/3 inning appearance in Game 5 of the NLCS. All in all, the former closer allowed just six hits and one walk to go with the one run allowed – which was actually an inherited runner surrendered by Will Smith – against six strikeouts in six innings.
With all that said, it would be much easier to feel good about Greene coming back in 2021. Closer Mark Melancon is a few years older than his fellow righty, and he’s a free agent this offseason anyway. So whether or not Melancon comes back, the back end of the Braves’ bullpen would seem to be in good hands.
But as you’d probably guessed, that’s the bad news for Shane Greene. Coming off a solid year in which he looked like his former reliable self, the Florida native is a free agent as well.
All is not lost, of course. The Braves’ bullpen was a strength of the 2020 team after the front office placed a lot of emphasis on that unit last offseason, and we can expect they won’t ignore it this offseason. And it’s safe to assume, I think that guys like Melancon and Greene will be among the first contacted by general manager Alex Anthopoulos and his crew.
Furthermore, most expect the free agent market to be team-friendly this year. With COVID-19 wrecking teams’ revenue side, it’s expected that most front offices will control the expense side and keep those contracts lower. But all it will take is one team – cough, Mets, cough – going all-in on a guy like Greene to keep him from returning to Atlanta.
If it were me running the Braves, Greene would be my first target for keeping the relief corps solid. He seems to have worked out whatever issues he had after coming over from the Tigers, and he’s younger than Melancon. Sure, bringing back both would be fantastic, but if I had to choose one, it’s Greene.
Only time will tell if that’s how the Braves are able to operate.
Thanks for reading on Shane Greene. If you enjoyed this piece, check out this one about another bullpen arm.