The Cincinnati Reds hope Brandon Finnegan will be a vital part of their rotation for many years to come.
That road begins Friday night when the 22-year-old left-hander makes his first career start while trying to help hand the host Milwaukee Brewers a seventh consecutive defeat.
Kansas City's first-round pick in 2014, Finnegan (0-0, 0.00 ERA) made his major league debut last September and was trusted enough to make seven playoff appearances for the Royals. After being dealt to Cincinnati (61-84) as part of the Johnny Cueto trade July 26, Finnegan finally gets to begin a game in the majors after 30 overall appearances out of bullpen.
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He'll extend the Reds' major league record for consecutive starts with a rookie pitcher to 48.
"We've prepped him to start and now that opportunity is there," manager Bryan Price told MLB's official website. "I don't want to say he has a surplus of innings left over, but he has some room to start for the remainder of the year. He'll eat up some innings for us. He can get acclimated to starting at this level."
Finnegan, expected to be a regular in the rotation as early as next season, has not allowed a hit and struck out four with a walk over 2 2-3 scoreless innings in two outings with the Reds. He went 0-5 with a 5.14 ERA in 15 starts between Double-A and Triple-A this season.
Cincinnati has dropped eight of the last 10 in this season series, but Milwaukee (62-84) is mired in its fifth losing streak of six or more games in 2015.
A Reds' victory would move them out of the NL Central cellar and one-half game ahead of Milwaukee in the standings.
Joey Votto is 3 for 16 in his last six games but had two hits in Wednesday's 5-3 loss at San Francisco. He's batted .426 with four home runs and 13 RBIs in his last 12 games at Miller Park.
Votto and the Reds get their first look at Zach Davies (1-1, 6.60), who tries to rebound after he allowed six runs, six hits and five walks in 3 2-3 innings of Saturday's 10-2 loss at Pittsburgh. The right-hander has walked eight and struck out 10 in 15 innings over his first three career starts this month.
"Walks are killers," he said. "You've got to make them earn their way on."
Despite Davies' latest performance, manager Craig Counsell sees plenty of potential in one of the Brewers' top overall prospects.
"I think we've got to give him a little longer than three starts to make that judgment," Counsell said. "He knows that. You have to attack hitters.
"Walks are not going to be something you see from him on good nights. He should have the ability to get himself ahead in the count whenever he wants."
Ryan Braun is batting .362 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 15 games against the Reds this season. Braun went 0 for 4 in Thursday's 6-3 loss to St. Louis, one day after sitting out with back tightness he calls "pretty serious."