|Finnegan will try to pitch Reds past Braves|
If you don't think the Cincinnati Reds have a lot riding on left-handed starter Brandon Finnegan, consider this.
The last few years, they've dealt away Johnny Cueto, Aroldis Chapman, Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips, and all they have to show for it currently is Finnegan.
Right now, he is not showing much at all for the team with the worst record in the majors. No wonder the Reds are hoping he starts turning it around when he faces Atlanta Braves right-hander Matt Wisler on Wednesday night in the third game of a four-game series at Great American Ball Park.
After beginning the season on the disabled list with a biceps injury, Finnegan is 0-2 with an 11.05 ERA, giving up nine runs on 10 hits and walking eight in 7 1/3 innings. In a 4-2 loss Friday to the St. Louis Cardinals, he threw 33 pitches in the first inning alone en route to allowing four runs on five hits and four walks in only three innings.
"Two horse-bleep outings. There's nothing you can say about that," Finnegan said. "I felt I got ahead of the hitters better (Friday). It just didn't go my way. I'm not making good enough pitches."
That was a sentiment echoed by Jim Riggleman, who served his first game as the Reds interim manager while Finnegan was losing to the Cardinals.
"He's getting closer," Riggleman said. "He's such a good competitor, but he's struggling with his control. He left some balls up. They (the Cardinals) are a good-hitting ballclub and you're not going to get away with those pitches (against them)."
Since coming over to the Reds from the Kansas City Royals in the Cueto trade, Finnegan is 13-16 over four seasons -- only one of which was spent entirely in their rotation. He was 10-11 over 31 starts in 2016 but, due to health issues, is only 1-3 over the last two seasons.
He's 25 and is young enough for a career turnaround, and the Reds are hoping it starts about now.
The Reds won only three of their first 21 games -- one of the eight worse starts in the majors over the last century -- before beating the Braves on Monday and Tuesday. Cincinnati blew a four-run lead in the ninth inning Tuesday before winning 9-7 on Scooter Gennett's two-run homer, his second of the game, in the 12th inning.
Wisler gave the Braves a big lift in his first start after being promoted from the minors, giving up one run on two hits while striking out eight and walking none over seven innings in a 12-4 win Thursday over the New York Mets. As a result, what was supposed to be an emergency start for Wisler -- scheduled starter Anibal Sanchez strained a hamstring the day before -- has turned into a second start, against the Reds.
Once a top prospect, Wisler (1-0, 1.29 ERA) wound up making only one start for Atlanta last season, but he's back in the picture now following his strong outing against the Mets. Until he beat the Mets and right-hander Matt Harvey, Wisler hadn't won a game in the majors since a 6-2 decision over the Washington Nationals on Sept. 18, 2016, when he lasted 5 2/3 innings.
"That's the best I've seen Wisler," Braves manager Brian Snitker said of his most recent start. "He was just on the attack with all of his pitches. He had a really good breaking ball and he was locating his fastball. That was as aggressive as I've seen him."
Wisler is 1-1 over four games and 15 2/3 innings, including two starts, in his career against the Reds. Not many of their batters have a history against him, but Joey Votto is 4-for-6 (.667) with one homer and two RBIs, Scooter Gennett and Billy Hamilton are 2-for-5 (.400) and Tucker Barnhart is 1-for-6 (.167).
Finnegan hasn't faced the Braves since beating them twice in two starts in 2016, lasting 11 innings in which he allowed three runs but struck out 10 and walked four. Freddie Freeman was 1-for-5 against him with a double.
The teams wrap up their four-game series on Thursday. The Reds are getting close to welcoming back third baseman Eugenio Suarez, who has been out since April 9 with a fractured right thumb. He began a rehabilitation assignment Tuesday at Triple-A Louisville, and Riggleman said he doesn't expect him to be there long.