The Cincinnati Reds are looking for a starting pitcher to carry the load and this year it is Brandon Finnegan.
With Anthony DeSclafani and Homer Bailey out with injuries for the Cincinnati Reds, they need to find a temporary ace. Three of the spots in the rotation are up for grabs in camp, while the last spot is being handed to free agent acquisition Scott Feldman. With no one else to turn to, the Reds are turning to Brandon Finnegan to be the ace of the rotation.
This is not a doom and gloom proposition, as it may have felt when the Reds named the likes of Paul Wilson and Joey Hamilton opening day starters. Finnegan is a step above those two. He may have had some tough spots in 2016, but he is ready for more this year.
It is unfair for the Reds to put Finnegan in this position. He has only made 35 MLB starts, all for the Reds. Before he came over in the Johnny Cueto deal all of his MLB appearances were relief appearances.
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Finnegan was a large part of how the Reds set a new MLB record for home runs allowed. He was second on the Reds behind the Dan Straily with 29 home runs. That was still among the most home runs in the National League.
The Cincinnati Reds have reason to have faith in Brandon Finnegan, but they may be placing the ace tag on him too early.
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Finnegan had a truly exceptional season considering how many home runs he surrendered. In his first full season as a big league starter he went 10-11 with a 3.98 ERA on a bad team. He also struck out 145 over 172 innings.
With a year under his belt Finnegan should strikeout more batters in 2017 without seeing an increase in walks. He should also be able to pitch a few more innings. Unfortunately, on this team that may result in another ten win season.
Meanwhile, the next most likely temporary ace is Feldman. If he starts the first half of the season and relieves the second half, he may pitch 125 innings. In that case he is likely only going to have 6-9 wins, not ace numbers.
Amir Garrett has the best stuff of any of the Reds’ pitching prospects. Unfortunately, the Reds have shown reluctance to let the prospects loose. He may only be in the rotation as long as DeSclafani is out.
The Reds need to develop an ace besides DeSclafani. It may be Finnegan or it may be Garrett. Whoever it is needs to be healthy at the start of next season.