CINCINNATI -- Brandon Finnegan is nominally the Reds' No. 1 starter. After all, he's the only one of the five in the team's current rotation who spent all of last year in a major league rotation.
Finnegan, the 23-year-old left-hander, pitched like an ace Wednesday night in the Reds' 2-0 victory over he Philadelphia Phillies. Finnegan went seven innings and allowed only one hit. He walked one and struck out nine.
"That's what you want to see," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "You can't expect guys to pitch like that every single time, but I'll tell you, what a difference."
The seven-inning outing left only the eighth inning for Michael Lorenzen and the ninth for Raisel Iglesias.
If the Reds can get six or seven solid innings out of their starter, this season could be much better than expected. That's a huge 'if,' though, when you're dealing with young pitchers, and the Reds have three of them in the rotation. Finnegan is the most experienced of the three, but Wednesday's game was the type that got away from him last year.
He didn't start well. He walked the second batter he faced and gave up a hit to the fourth. His pitch count was at 25 after one inning. It was looking like a short start.
But Finnegan figured it out.
"He pitched behind, but he survived the inning without any damage," Price said. "It was (63) pitches over the next six innings. He was extremely sharp with the full mix. It was completely different kid out there pitching. It was very impressive."
The first-inning struggles may have something to do with the 50-minute rain delay.
"It kind (ticked) me off," Finnegan said. "It's definitely hard. It was the first time I've ever had a rain delay. I kind of didn't know what to do. I was anxious, talking to everybody."
But, again, after the first, Finnegan adjusted. He backed off on his fastball a bit, but stayed aggressive in the strike zone.
"I was able to calm myself down," he said. "It ended up helping me. I got a lot of first-pitch outs from the second to the fifth."
All the offense came in the fifth. Joey Votto led off with a home run, Adam Duvall followed with a double and Zack Cozart got Duvall in with a two-out single.
"That second run made a big difference," Price said.
But it was Finnegan who was the star for the night.
"He shortened that game for us," Price said. "It was great to see."