CINCINNATI -- Tuesday's performance vs. the Mets had many of the trademarks of a start by Reds left-hander Brandon Finnegan. He competed tenaciously to give his team a chance, but also used up a lot of pitches, issued some walks, gave up a couple of homers and didn't get deep into the game.
Still, Finnegan left after five innings in line for a victory before the Reds' bullpen blew the lead in a 5-3 loss vs. the Mets. He allowed two earned runs (on solo homers) with three hits, four walks and six strikeouts while throwing 105 pitches.
"I thought he was jumpy, and his command wasn't very good the first three innings," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He kind of settled down with better pitch quality the last couple [innings]. … Every time he takes the ball, he competes until we take the ball from him. Not his best night by any means."
Coming off three straight quality starts where he struck out 29 batters in 20 innings, Finnegan labored vs. New York. He went to two-ball counts against 14 of the 22 batters he faced, and to three-ball counts seven times.
In the second inning, Curtis Granderson hit a 2-2 Finnegan fastball into the first row of seats in right-center field. Leading off the third, Jose Reyes hit a 1-0 sinker for a no-doubt homer to left field. Finnegan leads the National League with both 29 homers and 76 walks allowed this season.
"They were just spitting on a lot of pitches, they really made me work and I got into some deep counts, but I was able to get out of them," Finnegan said. "It's just one of those games that I just had to compete."
And there appears to be a clear path for how much longer Finnegan will get to compete the rest of the season. Now 8-10 with a 4.17 ERA in 28 starts and 159 2/3 innings, he seems on track to get two more starts.
Price said the club would not move Finnegan into the bullpen to finish the season.
"If we can get him to 30 [starts], we'll be at about 170-175 innings," Price said. "He'd have accomplished more than we would have anticipated as we entered Spring Training as far as pitching well enough and competing well enough to hold a spot in the rotation and to get better as the season progresses. That's what we hoped we would see, but didn't know [if we would get] with his background in the big leagues as a relief pitcher. He's answered a lot of questions here with this group."
Finnegan, 23, was pleased with the plan set out before him.
"We're kind of short on starters right now, so I'll keep going until they tell me to stop," he said. "I'm excited that they're going to let me stay in the rotation to finish up the season or however long I'm still in it, but I still have a lot of work to do."
Should Finnegan make the rotation in 2017, the innings governor would likely be off. He could be clear for his first 200-innings season if he does well.
"If he gets more pitch efficient, he's going to be able to be a guy who looks like an innings type of a guy," Price said. "Because he competes well and he does a lot of good things to keep himself in the game."
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.