The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
Brandon Finnegan entered the 2017 season as the most healthy, established starter on the Cincinnati Reds roster. Of course, he's also still just 23 years old and has only 35 starts to his credit, a testament to how inexperienced the Reds' current rotation current is.
That didn't matter to Brandon on Wednesday, however, as he threw rocks through the Philadelphia Phillies lineup in one of the more impressive starts we've seen from a Reds pitcher in recent years. He exited after the 7th inning having allowed just a lone hit - one that came in the 1st inning, mind you - and struck out 9 against just a lone walk in that time. He needed just 88 pitches to get through 7 innings, too, which might well be the most exciting part about his stellar outing, since high early pitch counts and a plethora of walks often bogged down his outings during the 2016 season.
If Finnegan's opening outing of 2017 is any indication, the Reds might well have a dang solid mid-rotation starter, something this particular rebuild desperately needs. So, have a trophy, Brandon, and here's to hoping the large Red Reporter contingent that was in attendance gave you some sort of great new karma going forward.
Honorable Mentions are due to: Joey Votto, who cracked the go-ahead dinger in this one; Adam Duvall, who doubled and scored; Zack Cozart, who had a two-hit evening and drove in a run; Michael Lorenzen, who eschewed a pair of early infield singles to toss a scoreless inning (with 2 Ks); and Raisel Iglesias, who nailed down the save in impressive fashion.
- It took until the Bottom of the 7th for the Cincinnati bats to kick into gear, but Votto rectified that to leadoff the inning. He lifted a Jerad Eickhoff breaking ball into the RF seats for a solo dinger - just two PAs after he almost hit one to the same spot in a long fly-out - and that put Cincinnati ahead. Duvall followed with a double, and he later scored on Cozart's groundball single into RF. Reds led, 2-0.
- From that point on, Lorenzen and Iglesias showed us all what an electric bullpen the Reds might have this year, shutting down the Phillies to both earn pizza for the fans and earn the Reds' first win of the season, as the final stood at that same 2-0 line.
- That Brandon Finnegan is only a day older than Cody Reed seems to continually get underappreciated, since Reed's prospect status seemed to creep up while Finnegan logged early bullpen-only innings with the Kansas City Royals. Fact is, however, Finnegan is truly one of the bright young starters in the system with 'prospect status' still worthy, despite the fact he was rushed to the big leagues.
- Finnegan, it should be noted, hit 96 mph with his fastball, and routinely sat between 93-95 mph on the evening. That'll do, Finny.
- Raisel Iglesias was brought in by manager Bryan Price for the 9th inning in a save situation, which shouldn't go unnoticed. The team's closer situation was in flux and yet to be determined, what with Iglesias, Lorenzen, Drew Storen, and Tony Cingrani all in the mix, but despite Iglesias getting an inning on Opening Day and the talk of multiple-inning guys pitching ranked on leverage, the first true 'save situation' of the year went to Igloo. File that one in the memory bank as you watch the bullpen usage going forward.
- The Reds will play a matinee on Thursday, with the first pitch of the final game of the series with the Philadelphia Phillies set for 12:35 PM ET. Rookie Davis is set to make his MLB debut as the Cincinnati starter, and he'll be opposed on the mound by veteran hurler Clay Buchholz.