Titanic Struggle Recap

Titanic Struggle Recap: Finnegan is brilliant as Reds get first win of 2017

Brandon Finnegan pitched a masterpiece, allowing just one hit over seven innings. He finished the evening retiring nineteen consecutive batters. The Reds offense was also held in check by Phillies starter Jerad Eickoff until the seventh inning. That is when Joey Votto hit a hanging curveball into the seats to give the Reds a 1-0 lead. They would tack on another run off a Zack Cozart single later in the inning.

The back-end of the Reds bullpen is drastically improved from Opening Day last season. Michael Lorenzen and Raisel Iglesias worked around several infield singles to shut the door for the Reds, and secure a 2-0 win for their first win of 2017.

The Reds are tied for first place in the NL Central.

Final R H E
Cincinnati Reds (1-1) 2 5 0
Philadelphia Phillies (1-1) 0 4 0
W: Finnegan (1-0) L: Eickhoff (0-1) S: Iglesias (1)
FanGraphs Win Probability | Box Score | Game Thread

Biggest Play of the Game

According to Fangraphs WPA statistic (winning percentage added), the most important play of the game was Joey Votto’s solo home run in the 7th inning with 0 outs, giving the Reds a 1-0 lead. That play increased the Reds chances of winning by 20.0% (from 58.9% to 78.9%).

Player of the Game

Brandon Finnegan: 7.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 K, 0.84 FIP

Finnegan was absolutely incredible tonight. He finished the game retiring 19 consecutive batters. He is only 23 years old. I repeat, he is only 23 years old! Finnegan’s fastball was reported around 95 MPH tonight. He averaged 91.8 last year. I do have to mention that the Phillies were 29th out 30 MLB teams in wRC+ against LHP in 2016, but nonetheless, you can’t start much better than he did tonight. I am excited to see if Finnegan can have a breakout 2017. He just might.

Positives

For some reason, Jerad Eickhoff (who was lights out for the first six innings) decided to hang a breaking ball to Joey Votto. It was kindly deposited into the right field seats. Votto made his first hit of the season count. In 2016, it took Votto ten games to hit his first home run.

Michael Lorenzen got a very nice hold in the 8th inning. He gave up two extremely cheap singles to start the inning, and then proceeded to strike out the next two batters, and induce a weak groundout (81 MPH off the bat) to end the threat.

Raisel Iglesias also gave up a cheap infield single, but was able to pitch around it with two strikeouts for the save.

Zack Cozart had a two-hit evening, including a RBI single in the 7th inning.

Billy Hamilton walked (!) and stole a base in the third inning.

Negatives

There was an hour rain delay? That’s all I got. Nice game all around from the good guys.

Not so random thoughts……….

The early Reds story-line of 2017 is “will Joey Votto buy Zack Cozart a donkey?” According to Jim Day, Votto is bribing Cozart with a donkey if Cozart makes the All-Star team. Cozart apparently loves donkeys, and loves taking his son to see donkeys during spring training. Votto will even deliver the donkey to the clubhouse. So…..Reds fans if there is not a #VoteCozart campaign started by tomorrow morning, we all have failed at life.

One reason to have hope for the Reds in 2017 is the backend of the bullpen. They start 2017 with Michael Lorenzen and Raisel Iglesias. Last season, it was J.J. Hoover and Ross Ohlendorf. Better days are coming, nation.

Up Next:

Reds vs Phillies
Thursday, 12:35 PM
TV: FOX Sports Ohio
Rookie Davis vs Clay Buchholtz

 

All photos are used courtesy of the Cincinnati Enquirer, and are used by permission. All statistics are used courtesy of Fangraphs, Baseball-Reference, and ESPN Stats & Info.

35 thoughts on “Titanic Struggle Recap: Finnegan is brilliant as Reds get first win of 2017

  1. What better way to celebrate the Reds first win of the season than donating to your favorite Reds website! Just click the button in the right column. Takes less than a minute.

  2. Woo Hoo! Watched in TV and Finnegan’s stuff was pinpoint. Awesome to watch. What a great win.

    Of course the Votto detractors will be upset that he only drove in one with his HR.

    Can we get a t-shirt going for Cozart’s Donkey?

  3. Best performance I’ve seen to date from Finnegan. He was still hitting 95-96 in the 7th inning. Working all around the strikezone all night. Great confidence builder! Hope Rookie took notes from today’s outing by Finnegan. C’mon Rookie, give us a quality start tomorrow! Love Cozart and Barnhart solidifying the bottom of the lineup.

    • He reminded me of Tom Glavine last night with his control. Best I have seen him pitch since he came over from the Royals.

  4. The lone run charged to the bullpen probably should have been unearned, as the triple hit by the Phillies pitcher (Hellickson??) should’ve been caught by Scott Schebler, and could easily have been scored an error.

  5. A mediocre team that may be good someday beat another mediocre team that may be good someday. There was no reason to hide in the Bomb shelter after Monday’s loss and no reason to name your kid Finnegan after tonight. The 94 loss Reds of 2016 were 2-0 at this point. The 113 win 1998 New York Yankees were 0-2 at this point.

    • You’re right, Chuck, but Finnegan looked like a different pitcher from last year with that big uptick in velocity. The Phillies are not a good team, but Finnegan would have been tough for anybody. None of kids are named Finnegan.

    • What if I just name my kid Finn? Then I can hedge my bets toward Mark Twain if Finnegan doesn’t work out. 🙂

  6. Maybe not a reason to name my kid Finnegan but certainly a good enough performance to bust out a few pints of Guinness Stout in the nearest Irish Pub. A few more performances like that and I’ll be not only a huge fan but also a drunk.

  7. Is Joey Votto clutch now?

    Great game. Love the Finnegan pitched, and was great to see the bullpen. While I may wish to see certain bullpen pitchers used differently, it’s fun to enjoy them pitching well in whatever role they are used in.

    I’m getting excited by Duvall as well. I think he may have a monster season.

  8. The over the top pro-Votto comments are just as enjoyable to read as are the over the top negative Votto comments. Keep them coming please! This Finnigan run of starts is very exciting, he often gets overlooked because of all the young guys but he just keeps getting it done. Love the increase in velo!

    • The great thing is Finnigan IS a young guy. It’s easy to forget since he’s been in the world series and all, but he’s 23. Looking forward to his next start.

  9. I just wanted to point out that at this juncture into the season Billy Hamilton has more walks than Joey Votto (make sure to ignore small sample size).

    BB

    Joey Votto- 0
    Billy Hamilton- 1

  10. BF is 23 years old, a lefty, under team control through 2021 and a pretty darned good pitcher. What’s not to like? By the way, I think it’s more likely that Finnegan is named the Opening Day starter for the Reds in 2018 than Bryan Price is the guy naming that starter.

  11. Wouldn’t it be great if after Cozart makes the All-Star team, he sees Joey Votto standing in front of his locker next to Adam “the Big Donkey” Dunn?

    Anyway, loved watching the game last night. Three of the four Philly hits never left the infield and the only hard hit ball was that hit in the first.

    Chris Welch made the point (when he could get a word in edgewise…) that the home plate umpire early on was not calling some of the borderline pitches down and away as strikes, but it seemed that once Finnegan kept hitting those spots, he started getting the calls. I wonder if there could have been an extra K or two if he had gotten them all.

    I also like Cozart and Barnhart at the bottom of the lineup; it looks like at least the 7-8 spots aren’t automatic outs anymore. Plus, when Lorenzen is pitching, maybe the 9 spot isn’t an easy out either. Anyway, optimism abounds!

    Go Reds.

  12. A solid game. It’s easy to get excited about Finnegan’s start, but I’m more excited about the bullpen upgrade from last year. Hoping the Reds hitters will get past opening day / night anxiety and start to relax at the plate. A few more walks and a few less swings at awful pitches would be welcome – looking at you Jose Peraza. Still a fun Opening Night to start the season.

  13. That was another fun game to watch, just like opening day with a better result.

    A lot of discussion about Votto, Cozart and Hamilton, but lost in the regular points of interest is Duvall. The first two games of the regular season have been a continuation of spring training for Duvall and that’s good for Duvall and the Reds. Finnegan was briliant and the uptick in velocity seems to be more than just a technology change. Finnegan looks like he is pitching with a less extreme delivery, still aggressive but just less extreme. I know that has been a focus by the coaches and hopefully explains both the velocity increase and better command of his pitches. With Finnegan’s performance during the 2nd half of 2016 and yesterday’s performance, there is a positive trend accumulating to start increasing expectations for the young pitcher. There are also lessons to be learned by his example for the other young pitchers competing for spots in the starting rotation this season.

    I know it’s just 2 games into a new season and opening day represented an outlier with the off day scheduled after the game, but yesterday was a classic opportunity to Price to demonstrate his commitment to a better way to manage the bullpen rather than using a bullpen defined by sdtrictly defined closer and setup roles. Price failed miserably. Price has apparently annointed Iggy as the designated closer for any and all situations with a lead of 3 runs or less in the 9th inning with Lorenzen his designated setup man for the 8th inning. Another opportunity lost to the book.

    Lorenzen pitched a superb 8th inning, with only 2 infield singles blemishing his performance. When Price made the decision to replace Finnegan after the 7th inning with the pitcher scheduled to lead off the 8th inning, he had 3 options:

    1] make a double switch to insert a hitter into the #9 hole and the pitcher into another position in the batting order so the relief pitcher would not need to be removed for a pinch hitter

    2] allow Lorenzen to hit leading off the 8th inning so he wouldn’t have to be removed for a pinch hitter

    3] check the book to find out how to manage the bullpen with strictly, narrowly defined roles

    Rather than allowing Lorenzen to pitch 2 innings to finish the game, Price reverted to the book. The Reds won so obviously bullpen management by the book is the only viable option to consider. Never mind that both of the best pitchers in the bullpen were warmed up and utilized for one inning and all the lip service about a more progressive approach to bullpen management proved just that, lip service. We can now look forward to a solid 50-60 innings of work this season from the hands-down two best relievers in the bullpen and arguably the two best arms on the entire pitching staff.

    • I think you are reading too much into one game. It was the second game of the year and Lorenzen worked through a tough inning on a cold & wet night.

    • As CP notes, Lorenzen had thrown 24 pitches, under some pressure, so he wasn’t going to pitch another inning. If he had got out of the 8th on 11 pitches, you may have seen him pitch the 9th.

      In fact, given that there is another game early this afternoon, I am sure that Price would have preferred not having to use both of them. Iglesias threw 21 pitches, so it is likely that neither is available today. They both did get a bit unlucky, giving up 3 infield hits between them, which was the major cause of the high pitch counts.

      • Exactly. Good call by both you and CP I think. Steve M made the same observation on Twitter last night.

  14. If you were able to watch the game on TV and see Finnegan pitch, the most impressive thing (I think) was his control, and location in the zone.
    Everything was down, moving inside and outside. Fooled several hitters with his change-up. Did not locate his curve very well (consistently) but did throw a few good ones.
    Had a good fastball, which seemed to range from 92 to 95 mph on the radar gun. I think that once he started to consistently throw strikes, he DID get start to get the calls on the outside corner.

    It’s easy to say something like “he will be the Reds best starter this year”, but he has looked consistently good since last August, when he started to use his change-up more (taught to him by Dan Strailly).
    Lorenzen was throwing smoke. Hit 99 mph on one pitch, with location.
    And Iglesias had very good command of his pitches, changing speeds.

    Yes, the bullpen will be much better this year.

    • That’s really good to hear. I had looked in at the game on Gameday just briefly in the first, and had seen Finnegan had to throw 20+ pitches in the first inning. Wondered if it was going to be another one of “those games.” I was so surprised to see his final line when I checked back in from the 7th inning on.

      I have been squarely on the Finnegan bandwagon since he demonstrated some no-hit stuff against the Cubbies last year (and I know he was also lit up a lot). But at 23, I’ll bet on him as much as anyone on the staff.

  15. My bold preseason prediction was that the Reds have a top 10 bullpen this year. I’m sticking with that prediction.

  16. Just want to let everyone know that any velocity upticks need to be taken with a grain of salt. The measurement devices this year are different in all parks than they were last year, and almost every single pitcher is seeing an uptick in velocity over the first 4 days of the season.

  17. No more talk please that Finnegan is better suited for the bullpen.
    Let last night be a lesson for Cody Reed and Robert Stephenson. The increase in Finnegan’s velocity was nice to see, but the locations of most of his pitches were superb. It isn’t just about throwing strikes, but locating those strikes for swings and misses. Having the hitters off balance and not sitting on a belt high fastball out over the middle of the plate. If Reed can duplicate what Finnegan has done, watch out.
    One thing that hasn’t been mentioned was Finnegan’s reaction after he struck out the batter for the 3rd out of the 7th inning. He was pumped. I loved seeing that from him. He didn’t necessarily know that was going to be his last batter, and his reaction was priceless. He was stoked as he came off the mound.
    I don’t know if anyone can find that video and post it. It was a great reaction.

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