MILWAUKEE – The final two months of the season are expected to be about development, but the Cincinnati Reds will be without one of their best young pitchers for at least two weeks.
Hunter Greene was placed on the 15-day injured list before Friday’s game in Milwaukee, retroactive to Tuesday, with a right shoulder strain. He's felt shoulder fatigue during some starts, including his last one Monday, and he felt more fatigue during his bullpen session Friday in Milwaukee.
Greene will return to Cincinnati on Saturday to undergo exams to determine the severity.
“Just some fatigue, just a little arm fatigue," Greene said. "I just want to be cautious with it and go about it the right way. We’ll just see where it goes.”
It’s tough timing for Greene, who has been performing as well as he has all year. In his last start against the Miami Marlins, he gave up one hit and zero walks in six scoreless innings while striking out eight, though he was pulled after only 84 pitches.
"It's something that he's actually felt from time to time and he just felt it a little more during his last start," Reds Manager David Bell said. "We thought he was going to be fine and he even threw a bullpen (Friday) and that's when he felt it a little bit more than normal.
"It's serious enough to go on the IL, but hopefully no more serious than keeping him out for 15 days then having him back so he can finish out his first season here strong. It was enough of a concern to take a closer look and just put a pause on things at least for the 15 days."
Greene, who will turn 23 years old on Saturday, carried a 2.70 ERA in his last four starts with 29 strikeouts and eight walks across 23 1/3 innings.
During his last start, he became the only MLB rookie since 1900 to have three games in which he pitched at least six innings with at least eight strikeouts and no more than one hit allowed, according to STATS Perform.
"It’s part of the game," Greene said. "It is frustrating to have to deal with it but it is what it is. Definitely looking towards the positives to getting back as soon as possible.”
The Reds are expected to have an innings limit on Greene at some point this season, but he had yet to near that threshold. He pitched a career-high 106 1/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A last year, and he’s at 102 2/3 innings this year.
Greene missed the 2019 season because of Tommy John surgery and there was no 2020 minor league season due to the pandemic.
"It’s just some fatigue," Greene said. "I’m getting to my innings from last year. Definitely want to keep pushing through.”
Greene was scheduled to start Sunday in Milwaukee, so the Reds will need to add a starter to the rotation. Reliever Ryan Hendrix was called up Friday.
It's possible Graham Ashcraft moves up a day – he'd pitch on normal rest with Thursday's off day – and they could call up a starter for their series against the New York Mets.
Justin Dunn, one of the four players acquired from the Seattle Mariners in the Jesse Winker/Eugenio Suárez trade, completed a rehab assignment at the end of July after a year-long shoulder injury. Dunn has a 6.92 ERA in seven starts in Triple-A, struggling with walks, but he's a potential option.
Greene has a 4-12 record and a 5.26 ERA in 20 starts this season with 127 strikeouts and 41 walks.
"I don’t think it will be that long," said Greene, who will be eligible to return on Aug. 16. "We’ll see. I don’t want to put a timeline on it. We’ll see where it goes.”
This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Hunter Greene placed on IL with shoulder injury, exam in Cincinnati