The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
Brandon Finnegan has repeatedly stated that he thinks he has what it takes to be a starter in the big leagues. It's something that made his move to the Cincinnati Reds an appealing one for the TCU product, since the Kansas City Royals seemed to have bullpen aspirations for their 2014 1st round pick. Neither his size nor his pitch repertoire is picture-perfect for a big league starter, but there's still plenty to suggest that giving him a shot in the rotation is worthwhile - especially for a team in full rebuild mode.
On Wednesday, Finnegan certainly made a solid statement that he deserves a starting role.
The lefty struck out 9, walked just a single Philadelphia Phillies hitter, and tossed 5 scoreless frames after an early 2-run homer from Maikel Franco. He was efficient - he threw just 86 pitches in his 6 innings despite rough weather - and held velocity on his fastball up to 93 mph even in his final inning of work. Heck, he even added a single at the plate for his first career big league hit. His Cactus League performance was rough and he's got plenty of folks saying he can't be more than a reliever, but that's something plenty of people once said about Raisel Iglesias, as well.
So, have a trophy, Brandon, and congrats on a dang fine start to the 2016 season. Not bad for a 22 year old who's actually younger than tomorrow's starter (Robert Stephenson).
Honorable Mentions are due to: Scott Schebler, who brushed off a 3 K game to doink the game winning hit; Eugenio Suarez, who launched a well-hit dinger; Jay Bruce, who had a pair of hits to the left side of the field (and neither came via bunt); and Caleb Cotham, who tossed a pair of scoreless innings in his first official appearance with the Reds.
- Finnegan fanned Cesar Hernandez on three pitches to open the Top of the 1st, but Odubel Herrera later reached 1B on a 2-out dribbler, and that proved large when Maikel Franco followed with a 2-run smash that cleared the RF wall in a blink. Reds trailed, 2-0.
- The Reds struck back in their first opportunity, however, as Suarez launched a 1-out Aaron Nola meatball into the LF seats for a solo dinger in the Bottom of the 1st, putting everyone on notice that the wind was blowing out of GABP in this one. Reds trailed, 2-1.
- From that point on, the weather got worse, and the collective offense got worse than worse. That is until the Bottom of the 9th, when the Reds finally got their gears-a-crankin'. Eugenio Suarez singled to lead off the inning, and he moved to 2B two batters later on a swinging bunt from Devin Mesoraco. Jay Bruce beat the shift to load the bases, and Schebler followed with an oppo double to the wall in LF that drove in the final two runs and put the stamp on this one. Reds walked off, 3-2!
- Finnegan fought through a myriad of not-ideal weather conditions in his outing, facing at times the wind blowing well out, driving rain, and a mound that was becoming spongy. Still, he threw 1st pitch strikes to 12 of the first 16 batters he faced, and generally looked quite effective.
- Brandon Phillips was originally in the lineup for this one, but was a late scratch due to a stomach illness. It's flu season, folks, so either get a flu shot or only hang out with people who got theirs.
- Scott Schebler's first start with the Reds got off to a start that was a bit less than desired. He struck out swinging in each of his first three PAs, but completely redeemed himself with a blast to the wall with the bases loaded to win the game.
- Day game tomorrow, with Robert Stephenson taking the mound for a 12:35 PM ET start. He'll face off against longtime Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Charlie Morton.
- WALKIN' OFF TUNES!