A tall left-hander from Monroe, Louisiana, Finley won an even 200 games at the Major League level despite never claiming that elusive 20-win season. Chuck was a power pitcher who made five All-Star Teams and was always among the league leaders in both walks issued and strikeouts. Over the course of his career, Big Chuck had seven Top Five finishes in strikeouts. Finely, a former first round pick by the Angels, once led the league in complete games and innings pitched.
Drafted number four in the nation in 1985, the Angels fasttracked the Louisiana collegian and gave him his first Major League assignment in 1986. California used Chuck exclusively out of the bullpen since his accuracy wasn’t of the Greg Maddux mold. Despite a lack of control that dogged him throughout his career, Finley would rack up high strikeout totals and often left those batters he walked stranded on base. After more fireman work in 1987 the Angels decided to convert him to the rotation in 1988.
Chuck went 9-15 with the Angels in 1988 and turned that record around in 1989 when he went 16-9. That ’89 season was Finley’s breakout campaign as he averaged seven strikeouts over nine innings and made the first of his five All-Star Teams. Although Chuck broke out in 1989 he was even better in ’90. That year he won 18 games for the Angels, posted a 2.40 ERA (2nd in the AL), made his second All-Star Team and notched 177 strikeouts. The following year he posted an identical 18-9 record and had the same 6.8 strikeouts over nine innings average he posted in 1990.
After a rocky year in 1992, Finley was back on level terrain in ’93. In the 1993 campaign, Chuck led the American League with 13 complete games on a tidy 3.15 ERA. In the strike shortened 1994 season he led the AL in innings pitched. After the strike was resolved, Finley would become one of the most prolific strikeout pitchers of his time. From 1994 to 2000, Finley would be in the Top Five in strikeouts every year except 1997. In 1996 he posted his first 200+ strikeout season when he sat down 215 batters on strikes. In ’98 he whiffed 212 batters and then fanned an even 200 in 1999. But while Finley was setting the pace in strikeouts, the Angels failed to capture a flag. Only after he signed a free agent deal with the Cleveland Indians in 2000 did he get back to postseason play.
In his final All-Star season in 2000, Finley won 16 games for the Tribe. He fanned 189 batters that season and helped the Indians make the Playoffs in 2001. Although 2001 was Chuck’s worst season he was able to make two postseason starts against the Mariners and lost both of them. At the age of 39 and coming off his worst season, the Indians felt he was near the end and sent him in a deadline deal to the Cardinals for prospect Coco Crisp. Down the stretch for the Redbirds, Finley averaged 8.8 strikeouts per nine innings as he carried St. Louis to postseason play. His last Major League action came that October as he made a start in the Division series against Arizona and won his only start in the NLCS against the Giants–his last Major League game.
W 200/L 173/PCT .536/ERA 3.85/G 524/CG 63/SHO 15/IP 3,197/H 3,069/BB 1,332/SO 2,610