Cincinnati Reds left-hander Brandon Finnegan is off and running in his first full season in a major league rotation.
In his first three starts, including Saturday against St. Louis, the former Southwest High and TCU standout has flashed the stuff that made him a first-round pick of the Royals in June 2014.
After his call-up in 2014, Finnegan became the first player to pitch in the College World Series and MLB World Series in the same year.
He was traded to the Reds in July 2015 and soon joined the rotation, making his first four career starts in September.
While he’s still showing the mid-90s fastball and biting slider that made him a top college pitcher, he’s added an effective change-up to the mix. It was on display Monday when Finnegan took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
Through his first two starts, Finnegan threw his change-up more than 25 percent of the time — up from 7.5 percent last season — according to Fangraphs.com. He’s even thrown it more frequently than his slider.
“Everything was working tonight,” Finnegan told Cincinnati.com after holding the Cubs hitless through a career-high 6 2/3 innings. “I was definitely feeling fatigued, but I wasn’t going to stop.”
Finnegan threw a career-high 111 pitches and struggled with his command — five walks — but also had five strikeouts.
He has 16 strikeouts in 17 2/3 innings this season, including two in five innings Saturday against the Cardinals. He earned his first victory this season after holding St. Louis to four unearned runs on four hits and four walks.
▪ Cubs right-hander Jake Arrieta (TCU) improved to 3-0 after tossing eight scoreless innings Saturday against the Rockies. He allowed five hits, struck out eight and walked one.
▪ Rockies shortstop Trevor Story (Irving) may have cooled off power-wise after hitting a record-breaking seven homers in his first six games, but the rookie is still hitting. He has five hits in his past five games, including two triples Wednesday and his first double Saturday.
▪ Red Sox outfielder/third baseman Brock Holt (Stephenville) started the season on a tear, collecting seven hits — including two doubles, two homers and eight RBIs — in his first four games.
▪ Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter (TCU) has 10 RBIs, eight runs scored and 10 hits, including three doubles, a triple and a homer, in 11 games this season.
▪ Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard (Mansfield Legacy) has allowed just one run in two starts (13 innings), .
▪ Dodgers right-hander Ross Stripling (Southlake Carroll) allowed only two runs and five hits in six innings in his second start after throwing 7 1/3 no-hit innings in his MLB debut.