Many Cincinnati Reds fans have probably dismissed Brandon Finnegan, but the left-hander’s production this spring has been promising.
While many Cincinnati Reds fans were encouraged by Anthony DeSclafani‘s perfect two innings of work on Friday, another pitcher put up zeroes on the board for a third time out this spring. Brandon Finnegan, oftentimes dismissed by Reds Country, has played three games this spring as has yet to allow a hit.
A former first-round pick of the Kansas City Royals in 2014, Finnegan was part of the trade that sent Johnny Cueto to the City of Fountains. In return, the Reds received Finnegan along with fellow left-handers Cody Reed and John Lamb. Lamb hasn’t pitched since 2018 and Reed is fighting for one of the final spots in the Cincinnati bullpen.
Finnegan has had success at the big league level. The left-hander was the first player to ever play in the College World Series and the World Series in the same year (2014). Appearing in 67 games at the major league level, Finnegan has a career-record of 16-18 with a 4.11 ERA. Finnegan was outrighted off the 40-man roster last spring, but stayed with the organization.
Last season, Brandon Finnegan remained in Goodyear following spring training. After missing the first half of the season, Finnegan returned to in-game action for the Chattanooga Lookouts. In 13 games at Double-A Chattanooga, Finnegan tossed 15 innings, allowed 14 hits, 10 walks and struck out 17 batters.
While those numbers may not be impressive, according to FanGraphs, Finnegan saw an uptick in several areas from the horrendous season the left-hander incurred in 2018. Finnegan pitched in 33 games between Triple-A Louisville and the Cincinnati Reds in 2018 with terrible results. Collectively, Finnegan went 2-13 with 7.15 ERA.
While there wasn’t much improvement in the traditional statistics, Finnegan saw huge gains in his strikeout-rate and HR/9. Those two improvements on their own won’t be enough to find a spot on the major league roster, but if Finnegan can control his number of walks, a place on the Opening Day roster is within reach.
Before you roll your eyes, who else on the Reds 40-man roster would you prefer as an additional left-handed option out of the bullpen? Cody Reed? Yeah, he got shellacked in his one inning of work the other day. It’s very early, but the margin for error is incredibly slim for Reed. He’s out of minor-league options and the Reds are looking to win in 2020.
Brooks Raley hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The non-roster invitee pitched a perfect inning of work the other day and could be a player to watch this spring. Josh Smith is the Reds only other option on the 40-man roster outside of Reed and has been less than impressive in 2.2 innings of work so far this spring.
Again, it’s early, but if David Bell is hoping to have more than just one left-handed reliever (Amir Garrett), Brandon Finnegan should not be dismissed so easily. The southpaw still has one minor-league option remaining, but would have to be added to the 40-man roster in order for that option to be exercised.