The Chicago Cubs made a flurry of roster moves on Tuesday. Before game two of their series with the Reds, the Cubs sent RHP Keegan Thompson down to Triple-A Iowa. In return, the team is calling up LHP Kyle Ryan and RHP Cory Abbott.
What may come as a surprise to some, RHP Keegan Thompson is heading down to Triple-A Iowa. Rather than looking at the move as a demotion, fans should understand this is likely in an effort to stretch him out. Translation: get him used to working more innings so he can start some games with the Cubs after the trade deadline.
Keegan Thompson had an impressive performance in Monday night's victory over the Reds. After loading the bases with no outs, Thompson worked his way out of the jam without allowing a run. It was a major step in the young right-hander's development. He ended the outing with this strikeout:
Now, it seems Thompson is getting the Justin Steele treatment, as he'll also be stretched out to work as a starter after the deadline comes and goes.
As a reliever, Thompson is 3-2 with a 2.21 ERA. In addtion, he has 43 strikeouts to 22 walks in 40.2 innings of work. Add on a hold and a save and Thompson has been a busy man for the Cubs this season.
Kyle Ryan returns to the squad as one of two pitchers coming from Triple-A Iowa. After Keegan Thompson was sent down, and Andrew Chafin was traded late last night, the Cubs have two bullpen spots to fill. Ryan takes one of those spots as another lefty to replace Chafin.
Ryan has not worked much in the big leagues this season. In just 4.1 innings over five games, Ryan has a 8.31 ERA and three strikeouts. Ryan was a major part of the bullpen back in 2019, but has failed to replicate those numbers in a Cubs uniform since.
Ideally, more work for Ryan will improve his stats, but if he struggles again early and often, he won't be around very long. The team will likely try out numerous players in numerous roles, so no job is safe down the stretch.
In 19 games at Triple-A Iowa, Ryan is 2-0 with a 2.52 ERA. Add on 24 strikeouts and only seven walks across 25 innings of work and its easy to see why he is getting another chance. If Ryan can find his minor league success with the big club, he may stick around longer than expected.
Abbott also returns to the Cubs as one of two arms replacing Thompson and Chafin. Abbott made his major league debut earlier this season, and pitched in five games for the Cubs his first time around.
In 11.1 innings in Chicago, Abbott has a 6.35 ERA with eight strikeouts and seven walks. The numbers weren't great the first time around, but the potential was visible when he was on the mound.
At Triple-A Iowa in 2021, Abbott is only 1-5 with a 7.21 ERA in ten starts. That said, Abbott's strikeout numbers are impressive. He has 71 strikeouts compared to just 25 walks in 48.2 innings of work. Abbott also had two really good seasons in 2018 and 2019. The talent is there, so an extended opportunity and look may be his golden ticket to sticking in the MLB.
The Cubs are in action on Tuesday night once again against the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CDT as Cubs RHP Adbert Alzolay takes on RHP Vladimir Gutierrez for the Reds.