Reds’ left-hander Brandon Finnegan exited his third start with a left lat strain, the team announced on Saturday. Finnegan lasted one inning against the Brewers, issuing one hit, two walks and two runs before he was pulled for right-hander Robert Stephenson in the second. No timetable for Finnegan’s return has been revealed yet.
This wasn’t the first sign of trouble for the 24-year-old lefty, whose last start ran just two innings against the Pirates last Monday. Finnegan walked five and struck out four, but managed to escape with only one run charged to the Pirates in the Reds’ eventual 7-1 win. The club has not commented on whether Finnegan’s struggles have been the product of injury or whether he’s suffering through the same early-season bugs that have been cropping up around the league, though it certainly seems to be the former considering the left-hander’s dominance during his first outing of the year.
Finnegan is beginning his third campaign with the Reds since his arrival in Cincinnati during the 2015 season. He pitched to a career-worst 3.98 ERA in 2016, delivering a 4.4 BB/9, 7.6 SO/9 and 0.3 fWAR in 172 innings.
You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.
Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.
Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.
Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.