WASHINGTON - When reliever Kyle Finnegan made his Major League debut in July, his pitching coach for the Nationals was Paul Menhart.
That will not be the case when Kyle Finnegan heads to Spring Training in February – the contract of Menhart was not extended earlier this month.
“I have nothing but good things to say about him,” Finnegan 29, told Federal Baseball on Monday. “I wish him the best. Our time working together was great. He helped me get my feet wet and get some confidence and we worked out some mechanical things early on in Spring Training. Nothing but good things about Paul.”
Finnegan flew home to Texas after the season and is now reconnecting with his wife and eight-year-old daughter.
The right-hander from Texas State – picked up by the Nationals as a free agent in December – posted an ERA of 2.92 in his first year in the majors.
He threw 24.2 innings and gave up 21 this and 13 walks (four intentional) with 27 strikeouts. He pitched at Double-A and Triple-A for Oakland in 2019.
Finnegan has already reflected on his season.
“I think my walks were a touch too high. I know a lot of these were intentional walks,” said Finnegan, who pitched 232 games in the minors before making The Show against the Yankees on July 25. “I think I did a good job of throwing strikes as a whole, but I think I gave away too many free passes. That is something I would like to work on.
“And also to continue to develop my splitter,” he added. “It was hit or miss in some outings. It is a good pitch for me but I think I can make it a little bit better, a little more consistent.”
Finnegan was drafted in the sixth round in 2013 out of Texas State by Oakland. He will continue to work out in Texas this offseason.
“I don’t like to take a lot of time off; I had my first workout today, working in the weight room,” he said Monday. “I got day one in the books today.”
He played winter ball in the Dominican Republic after the 2019 season and was in Mexico for winter ball after the 2018 campaign.
This winter he will pass on winter ball and prepare for Spring Training at West Palm Beach in Florida.
“The environments over there are one-of-a-kind,” he said. “The fan bases are crazy; they are very passionate. I was able to pitch in some high-leverage situations.”
The big news in the Finnegan home this off-season is the arrival in a few weeks of a Golden retriever – which will delight his daughter. The litter has been born, but the family has to wait until they can pick up one of the puppies.
After pandemic protocols with the Nationals, Finnegan is now following local guidelines – and his own – in Texas. “It has been pretty local for the most part,” he said. “Obviously, the health and safety of my family is very important.”
Finnegan can look back on his debut in a wild 2020 season.
“I played long enough to where I had a good idea what to expect,” he said. “The first outing was kind of like an out-of-body experience. From that point on, it is just baseball. This was kind of like a nice introduction” to pro ball.