Brandon Finnegan looks up to the other pitchers contending for the Reds’ starting rotation. Yet, in spite of his relatively small stature, none of them looks down on him.
Finnegan is generously listed at 5-foot-11 by the Reds. Closest rotation candidate in size is Robert Stephenson, who stands 6-2.
The 23-year-old left-hander walks around here like he owns an advantage, however, and to an extent he does. He and 6-6 Scott Feldman are the rotation as the team enters the last two weeks of spring training.
Bronson Arroyo, Tim Adleman, Rookie Davis, Sal Romano, Amir Garrett, Cody Reed and Stephenson are battling it out for the other three spots, which will dwindle to one when the injured Homer Bailey and Anthony DeSclafani return well into the season.
Finnegan has peace of mind, knowing he can just get ready and not be concerned with results.
“I’m very lucky to say I have a spot on the team right now,” Finnegan said. “That’s all I have to worry about. It’s definitely tough coming into spring training trying to fight for a spot like I did last year. I didn’t have a good spring training last year.”
Luck had nothing to do with Finnegan winning a rotation spot last year and it won’t now. It is his demeanor on the mound, the look in his eye that communicates to the hitter, “I’m better than you. I’m coming right after you.”
Finnegan has three starts to date, with his fourth scheduled against Cleveland on Friday. He’s pitched 7 1/3 innings and allowed seven runs for an 8.59 ERA.
HAL MCCOY: Cody Reed a mixed bag in Reds win
“You’re going to get hit around. It happens in the season too,” Finnegan said. “The three spring trainings I’ve had, I haven’t had a good one yet. If I keep having good seasons, I’ll want to have a bad spring training every single year.”
Manager Bryan Price is looking for aggressive pitchers from among his core of young potential starters.
“I want them to act like they belong,” Price said. “We have a lot of guys with the physical tools, but do they have the resilience that a bad outing or two won’t ruin their career. Most guys go up and down until they become the pitcher we know they can be.”
Finnegan got a taste of the big time early at age 21.
Drafted out of high school in Fort Worth, Texas by the hometown Texas Rangers in the 45th round, Finnegan followed in the footsteps of his father, Gary, to pitch at Texas Christian University. He was 4-5 with a 3.47 ERA as a freshman. Finnegan was honorable mention All-Big 12 as a sophomore. In 2014, he pitched in the College World Series and was drafted in the first round by Kansas City. He ended the season pitching in the World Series for the Royals, the first player to play in the College World Series and the World Series in the same year.
The Reds acquired Finnegan at the trade deadline in 2015 for Johnny Cueto.
Last season with the Reds, Finnegan made 31 starts with a 10-11 record and a 3.98 ERA. He pitched 172 innings, striking out 145 and walking 84. Finnegan was second on the staff behind Dan Straily with 29 home runs allowed.
“I just keep taking the ball and try to get better and better every time I go out there,” Finnegan said.. “As long as I’m commanding the ball, I’m happy.”
DeSclafani was thought to be the Opening Day starter but Finnegan could get the nod with DeSclafani starting the season on the disabled list.
‘It sucks for (DeSclafani) to be hurt,” Finnegan said. “But everyone wants to make the start on Opening Day.”
Right now Finnegan is ready for the season to start:
“I’m so over spring training, it’s unbelievable.”