The Pitcher: Brandon Finnegan
As previously mentioned, the Phils are catching a break with Cincy’s loss of DeSclafini. He would have been the pitcher standing on the bump if not for the UCL issues he is currently suffering. Since he is unable to go, the Phillies will see Scott Feldman Monday.
However, he is not the pitching roadblock I am most concerned with heading into the first series of the season. Of the three arms that will face Philly this week, it is Brandon Finnegan who poses the biggest issues. The 23-year-old was very solid in his first big league season. While he does not look like a future ace by any means, he has solid enough stuff to give teams fits from game to game.
Last season, Finnegan struck out 145 batters, only walking 88 in 172 innings. He was able to break an ERA under four (3.98). Part of the reason for Finnegan’s success last season was the newfound faith in some of his secondary stuff. As a team last season, the Phillies struggled against lefties, only hitting a combined .246/.304/.363 with a mere 28 round trippers.
While he boasts two different fastballs, Finnegan found a new confident late in the season with his changeup. He already had a nasty slider, so adding a new and effective pitch made him much more dangerous late in the season. According to Fangraphs, he threw his change nearly 20% of the time after August 26th, so it is indeed his new best friend.
In his first outing against the Phillies last season, he went six innings, giving up three hits and two earned runs, walking one, and striking out nine. The second time around, he only made it through four innings, allowing four hits and three earned runs, walking five and sitting down four on strikes.
The Phillies will need to try and avoid deep counts in Finnegan’s favor on Wednesday if they want the chance to beat him. If he gets them into counts against his slider and changeup, it could make for a long day for a mediocre Phillies lineup.