Saturday, May 25, 2024

Wait, Is Keegan Thompson Back, BACK???

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Right-handed pitcher Keegan Thompson was called up on Friday and I was under the impression that he was still only throwing in the lower 90s, which was an issue in 2023. Cubs fans know how that went for Thompson, who was optioned to Triple-A last May and then spent most the year also struggling in the minor leagues. Many characterized this call up as Thompson’s last chance to prove that he can provide some value as a guy who is shuttled between Triple-A and the majors this year.

A few bad outings and Thompson could be moved out of the team’s 40-man roster.

Well, Thompson came into Friday night’s game against the Seattle Mariners and HOLY SHIT HE’S THROWING HARD AGAIN! The 29-year-old retired the side in order in the seventh inning, ending the frame with a strikeout of Jorge Polanco on a 94mph fastball.

Now, you may be thinking, 94mph, what’s the big deal? Well, although Thompson has never been on a flamethrower, when he did have success as a multi-inning reliever in 2022, he was averaging 94mph with his fastball.

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The velocity went down in 2023, Thompson lost the ability to strikeout hitters and at the same time he began to walk a lot more of them. Plus, hitters started to crush Thompson. So, seeing that Thompson was throwing a lot more 93-94mph last night was a welcomed surprise.

Thompson pitched two perfect innings in his season debut with the Cubs, striking out three batters.

Back in 2022, he threw 115 innings and posted a 3.76 ERA overall. As a reliever that season, Thompson recorded a 1.47 ERA in 36.2 innings and it wasn’t fluky, as he held hitters to a .156 batting average, had a 57.5% ground ball rate and struck out 30% of the batters he faced, using his fourseam fastball and a cutter as his main arsenal. That was when he was consistently sitting at 94-95mph.

Another issue that Thompson appeared to have last year was that he just could not bounce back physically to repeat his success out of the bullpen. He only needed 23 pitches for his two innings of work, so we’ll see what his availability is within the next few days and Thompson follows up his first outing.

But maybe this performance gives Thompson more confidence as well. Or maybe it’s the mustache.

Gotta see it more than once, though, to fully buy into Thompson again. Fingers crossed!

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