When Brandon Finnegan first arrived in the Major Leagues back in 2014 he had a fastball that averaged 93.5 MPH. In 2016, his only full season in the Majors that number dropped off to 92.6 MPH. In early 2017 he had a muscle injury near his pitching shoulder. Later that year he injured his non-pitching shoulder while falling that ended his season. In he returned, but he just wasn’t the same. His fastball was barely touching 92 MPH. His breaking ball wasn’t crisp. He went to Triple-A and things didn’t get any better. His control was gone – he walked 40 batters in 67.2 innings with an ERA over 7.00 for the Bats. And that was last year before Triple-A made the switch to the Major League Baseball.
This spring, Finnegan was back in spring training with the big league club, but it was more of the same. He had no velocity and he was getting lit up. He was optioned to the minors, and then he was designated for assignment. Unsurprisingly he cleared waivers and the Reds kept him in Goodyear when the season began. The plan was to work with him and to try to get him back to where he once was. The organization even had him go out to Driveline Baseball where he worked with their team to try and get back to his old self.
After being gone for the entire first half of the season, Brandon Finnegan appeared on the mound in Double-A with the Chattanooga Lookouts on July 26th. It was his first time pitching in a game that counted all year. And he looked good, too. He struck out two batters in a shutout inning of work. He’s now made five total appearances for the Lookouts and given up just one run in 7.0 innings. That’s come with just two walks and he’s struck out 10 of the 26 batters he’s faced.
When it comes to the eye test here, as noted – he has looked good. The breaking ball has been crisp with some good biting action to it. But he’s also been throwing his fastball by guys. And yes, it’s just Double-A and not the Major Leagues – but even so, most swings-and-misses aren’t coming on fastballs at any level of professional baseball. While Finnegan’s never been a guy to be confused with Aroldis Chapman, when he first arrived in the Majors he threw harder than he’s ever thrown since. We’re dealing with a small sample size here, but he’s been throwing 92-94 and touching 95. In his last appearance he hit 96 according to the Montgomery Biscuits broadcast team – though I was not able to confirm the accuracy of that pitch. The 92-95, though – that’s from reliable sources.
There’s clearly a sample size issue here. But so far things have looked a lot better for Brandon Finnegan than they did the last time any of us saw him. The competition level he’s at is lower. But his stuff is better. The velocity is where it hasn’t been in years. Those are good signs. And while it *feels* like he’s been around forever, the left-hander is still just 26-years-old.
This article went out to supporters of the work done here at the site over at Patreon yesterday. For as little as $1 a month you can get early access to some content, as well as additional notes and information during the season on all of the on-goings in the games from the night before. If that sounds like something you’d be into, check out this link for more information.