Finnegan grinds through six innings vs. Braves

Left-hander allows one run, strikes out five in win

Finnegan grinds through six innings vs. Braves

ATLANTA -- Brandon Finnegan's transition back to being a starting pitcher has taken time. But over his past couple of outings, the left-hander has shown signs that he's becoming comfortable in the Reds' rotation.

That progression continued during Tuesday's 3-1 win over the Braves at Turner Field. Despite issuing three walks and a hit batter, Finnegan overcame his control issues and surrendered only one run and four hits across six innings.

"You're not always going to have your best stuff, and your arm's not always going to feel the best, but the big part is to go out there and battle," Finnegan said. "That's what we, as a staff, want to do every time we go out there, is just keep us in the game. Luckily, I was able to do that tonight."

The outing marked the 23-year-old's fourth quality start in his past five outings. During that stretch, he's allowed only one run on three separate occasions while going 2-2 with a 2.41 ERA.

Perhaps the most important thing, though, has been Finnegan's ability to go deeper into games.

At the start of the season, the former reliever struggled to eat up innings, unable to pitch six complete frames in five of his first nine starts. He has now pitched at least six innings in five straight outings.

This stretch has been highlighted by his start against the Dodgers on May 23, when he pitched the first complete game by a Cincinnati left-hander since Lance Davis defeated the Tigers on July 16, 2001.

"Earlier on in the year, we weren't able to do that very often, so our bullpen got hacked a lot," Finnegan said. "For us to go deep into the game, it's very important, because they need some rest and we need to pitch better. I think we've done a great job of that the last month and a half, so hopefully we can keep continuing to do it."

While Finnegan has shown improvement recently, walks have still plagued the left-hander. Tuesday marked the fourth time in his past five starts that he's allowed at least three bases on balls.

As he showed against the Braves, though, Finnegan has negated his mistakes. One instance occurred in the third inning, when he put runners on first and second with one out. Instead of folding, the left-hander induced back-to-back groundouts to escape unscathed.

"The thing I'm so excited about with Finnegan is the fact that he's just starting to reach some of his potential," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He still sprays the ball, he's still not the type of command pitcher he's going to be. The changeup has been a big help, but he's really relied primarily on fastballs, sliders and a lot of grit.

"And the grit will allow him to get to his potential."

Pat James is a reporter for MLB.com based in Atlanta. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.