The story coming into the Chicago Cubs series with the Washington Nationals was the homecoming of Jon Lester and Kyle Schwarber, but this shouldn’t overshadow the interesting and inspiring debut that happened Monday night. Tommy Nance, a former indy ball pitcher, got his first chance on a big league mound and he absolutely shoved in his inning of work.
Nance is the latest Cubs pitcher to make his debut with the big league club, following Justin Steele and Keegan Thompson, but his story greatly differs from both. The 30-year-old righty began his career after college as a member of the Windy City Thunderbolts before getting picked up by the Cubs in 2016. Originally going undrafted, Nance persevered in his baseball dreams, stepping onto the mound at Wrigley Field in the bottom of the ninth of a 7-3 game.
Tommy Nance had a dream debut with the Chicago Cubs
While it is a super small sample size, Nance was electric in his first inning of work as a big leaguer, picking up his first strikeout and recording all three outs without issue. His fastball averaged 97 MPH while his slider regularly hit over 2,900 RPM (he topped out at 3,224) with over 43 inches of vertical break which is utterly disgusting to say the least. That spin rate puts him in elite company as only Trevor Bauer averaged more spin on his pitches than Nance in the majors this year. It’s unreal.
With the Cubs still out several key pitchers including Trevor Megill and Alec Mills, Nance should have some time to keep strutting his stuff in the majors and I’m all for it. This is the chance of a lifetime for a guy whose future in baseball seemed all too uncertain only a short while ago. Moreover, he’s earned a shot between his stellar performances in Spring Training, Triple-A and now the majors.
He even followed up that debut with 1 1/3 scoreless out of the pen on Wednesday in the Cubs’ 4-3 loss to Washington, with three of the four outs he recorded coming via the punch out. Needless to say, it’s a nice shot in the arm for the pen.
What Nance has accomplished, both in terms of his climb to the majors and debut performance, should grab your attention. The Cubs simply don’t have a pitcher who can throw the caliber of stuff Nance showed and he desperately needs another look.
To come out throwing like this after a grueling baseball journey that lasted the better part of a decade is unheard of and he adds to the crop of talented rookie Cubs pitchers making their mark in the majors this season.