The Cubs got embarrassed again on Monday night. Unfortunately for Cubs fans, this is becoming a common occurrence. Justin Steele looked good, then the Cubs’ pen threw it away. Hell, even Joey Votto recorded his 2,000th career hit on Monday night.
However, despite being one day removed from a solid second career start for Justin Steele, Cubs fans have their eyes and ears pointed toward Iowa. The reason? Keegan Thompson. The other young starter the Cubs are stretching out is nearly ready. How do we know he’s ready? Let’s start with some of the events that have transpired in recent days.
Triple-A Player of the Week
One really quick indicator that Thompson is nearing MLB readiness is his Triple-A Player of the Week honors. After two stellar starts for Thompson, the right-hander went 8.1 scoreless innings for the Iowa Cubs. One of those starts came in the team’s one-hitter on Sunday night.
In those 8.1 scoreless innings, Thompson allowed just three hits with nine strikeouts and only one walk. In case one didn’t know, that’s incredible. Triple-A level or not, pitching that well over the course of two starts is impressive, and exciting for both the Cubs organization and the fan base alike. Thompson is showing that he’s someone to watch down the stretch in what is ultimately a lost season for the Chicago Cubs.
Keegan Thompson started Sunday’s game for the Iowa Cubs. What is the significance you may ask? Well, the Iowa Cubs had a combined no-hitter entering the ninth inning before allowing the lone hit of the game for the Omaha Storm Chasers. In that start, Thompson went 4.1 innings, striking out seven and not allowing a hit or walk. The first walk wasn’t allowed until the fifth inning by the Iowa Cubs.
Thompson’s overall numbers have been so impressive. In just four starts with Triple-A Iowa, Thompson has pitched 14.2 scoreless innings with only five hits and five walks allowed. In that same span, he has struck out 16 batters accompanied by a 0.68 WHIP. The young right-hander seems like he’s ready for the big leagues.
What’s the Hold-Up?
The only hold-up appears to be pitch count. Thompson’s 4.1 innings are the most in any start so far in Iowa, and his pitch count was only at 61 when he was pulled. Stretching out as a pitcher takes some time, so we’ll likely see one more Triple-A start for Thompson before he’s officially called up. Taylor McGregor on Marquee Sports Network during Monday’s game mentioned that the Cubs want to see him get to 75 pitches before being called up.
If that is truly the case, then one more start is certainly guaranteed. However, if he is quickly losing his composure after pitch 65 or so, then another start may also be in the cards. That said, there’s a very good chance Thompson joins Steele in the rotation sooner than later.
What’s On Tap Next for Thompson?
The Iowa Cubs resume game action on Tuesday, August 17 with a doubleheader of sorts. The first game will be the completion of a suspended game with St. Paul on June 20. The second game is the originally scheduled game. The Triple-A Cubs will play St. Paul for seven games on the road if you include the suspended makeup. We may see Keegan Thompson’s last Triple-A start in this series. Assuming no changes, that should occur either Thursday or Friday. Stay tuned Cubs fans, we’ll likely see Thompson in the big leagues before calendars turn to September.
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