CINCINNATI – Since he was cut by the Reds from the Spring Training roster on March 18 and outrighted off their 40-man roster before Opening Day, left-handed pitcher Brandon Finnegan has yet to pitch an inning this season in the Minor Leagues.
Instead, Finnegan is working on his craft far away from the glare.
“We are trying some interesting stuff with Brandon to get him back where he was,” Reds president of baseball operations Dick Williams said on Thursday. “That’s included involving some outside third parties to take a look at his mechanics and kind of work with him on some strengthening programs.”
After Spring Training, Finnegan was not sent to Triple-A Louisville, where he pitched most of 2018. Instead, he was assigned to Rookie-level Billings, the short-season club that doesn’t begin its season until June.
Williams declined to disclose which outside consultants were working with Finnegan, but it sounded similar to Driveline Baseball – a data-driven performance center near Seattle. He has also worked with Reds coaches at the team’s complex in Goodyear, Ariz.
“The hope is he would still have a significant amount of time on the field this season, that he would be back with an affiliate,” Williams said.
Finnegan, 26, first came to the Reds from the Royals, with Cody Reed and John Lamb, in the 2015 trade for ace Johnny Cueto. In 2014, Finnegan was a first-round Draft pick of Kansas City and appeared in both the College World Series for TCU and the World Series from the Royals’ bullpen.
During his first full season with Cincinnati in 2016, Finnegan was 10-11 with a 3.98 ERA in 31 starts. Tough times followed as injuries limited him to four starts in '17. In ’18, he was 0-3 with a 7.40 ERA in five starts before being optioned to Louisville. There, he was 2-10 with a 7.05 ERA in 28 games, including nine starts.
In six spring games this year, including one start, Finnegan had a 19.80 ERA with nine hits, six walks and eight strikeouts over five innings. Besides the poor command, his velocity also seemed to dip.
It’s not uncommon for players to work with outside consultants or performance centers in the offseason to get ready. It is unique for them to go through the process during a season.
“It’s new for us,” Williams said. “But the player and agent were on board, and I think we all have seen what’s in there and we’re hopeful he can get back to that.”
It hasn’t been determined if the Reds will target the rotation or the bullpen for Finnegan after his time away.
“At this point, it’s more about getting him back to where he was,” Williams said. “Then we would hope to be in a position to pick which is more appropriate. For now, it’s about getting him to throw hard and throwing with better command.”