While the St. Louis Cardinals hope he can be a key part of their postseason rotation, Lance Lynn can't shake the command issues that have plagued him down the stretch.
As St. Louis looks to tighten its grip on the NL Central lead, Lynn hopes to get on track while leading the club to a fourth straight win Wednesday night against the visiting Cincinnati Reds.
Lynn (11-10, 3.28 ERA) will fall short of a fourth straight 15-win season after going 0-2 with a 9.26 ERA in his first three September starts. He hasn't made it out of the fourth inning in three of his past seven and has 20 walks while striking out 18 over 31 1-3 in his last six.
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The right-hander issued a career-high six free passes and gave up three runs over 3 1-3 innings Friday when he did not factor in an 8-3 loss at Wrigley Field. With the Cardinals (95-56) holding a four-game division lead with 11 left, he's hoping to resolve his problems before the playoffs.
Manager Mike Matheny insists there's nothing physically wrong with Lynn.
"He continues to measure up well with what the training staff sees, and he feels good," Matheny told MLB's official website. "It's not a real secret what his style is. He comes right at guys. But when you do that, you have to find your control and control the plate. ... With his style of pitching, he's going to have a tough time if he can't locate his fastball."
Lynn has struck out 28 and walked 11 while posting a 2.12 ERA in his last five starts versus Cincinnati (63-87). He's 1-1 with a 2.77 mark in two meetings this season.
Jay Bruce is batting .452 with three home runs in 31 at-bats against him and Joey Votto is hitting .450 in 20 at-bats. Todd Frazier, however, is 5 for 31 (.161) with 15 strikeouts.
Bruce's 456-foot homer in Tuesday's 3-1 loss was the longest by a left-handed hitter at 10-year-old Busch Stadium. Bruce has five home runs on a nine-game trip that concludes Wednesday.
The Reds, who have totaled two runs and 18 strikeouts in this series, hope to avoid their fourth straight defeat.
Brandon Finnegan, acquired from Kansas City in the Johnny Cueto trade, allowed one run over five innings Friday in his first career start - a 5-3 win at Milwaukee. He had made 30 relief appearances, including seven during the Royals' run to the World Series last season.
"For a young guy that a lot came quickly for last year, this still was a big steppingstone for Brandon," manager Bryan Price said. "He did transition into the rotation for us in Triple-A and wasn't spot on as far as having immediate success as a starter. This was his best start since he's been in our organization."
Finnegan (1-0, 1.17) didn't allow a hit over 2 2-3 scoreless innings in two relief appearances against the Cardinals earlier this month. Brandon Moss took him deep in April when both played in the AL.
Tommy Pham knocked in two runs Tuesday for St. Louis, which has won 13 of 17 at home against Cincinnati. Pham is batting .407 with three homers, three triples, two doubles and 10 RBIs over his last seven games.