Cubs: Win or lose, Keegan Thompson has dominated all the same

(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

Man, dropping back-to-back games at homes to the Pirates, of all teams, certainly isn’t how you like to head into a weekend (throw in the Bulls getting blown out in Game 3 and you’re really feeling it). But that’s where we are as the Cubs look to salvage a split by picking up wins on Saturday and Sunday.

Friday’s loss – which came after the game was pushed back from a 1:20 PM start due to weather – certainly had its fair share of lows but, once again, Keegan Thompson stood out as a bright spot, tossing four more scoreless innings after coming on in relief of Drew Smyly.

That performance has him up to 13 2/3 innings on the year with zero runs allowed, just six hits and a 14-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio. As starting pitchers continue to stretch out, having a shutdown long man in the pen has been insanely beneficial to the Cubs. Given the success Thompson has had there, it’s hard to see David Ross changing up how he uses the young right-hander anytime soon, either.

It hasn’t mattered what the situation is or the matchup looks like – Thompson has come out on top. He’s carrying reverse splits to this point, with lefties batting just .067/.177/.067 against him and right-handed hitters checking in at .179/.233/.179.

He ranks in the 95th percentile in average exit velocity, and is in the top 10 percent of the league in  xwOBA, xERA, xBA and xSLG. Thompson throws four pitches, but really rides just three of them, mixing in a cutter and curveball with a fastball that averages just under 94 MPH.

Cubs hoping Keegan Thompson can be a long-term fixture on the staff

The 2022 season isn’t going to end with another parade on the North Side of Chicago. But that doesn’t mean it can’t contribute to bringing another title back to Wrigleyville. The emergence of arms like Thompson or Ethan Roberts, young, controllable pitchers, could go a long way toward clarifying the long-term outlook of the team.

Next. What's gone wrong for Marcus Stroman in his last 2 starts?. dark

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The lack of homegrown pitching played a major role in the dynasty that never came to be over the last decade. Since last summer’s sell-off, we’ve seen more young pitchers make an impact than we have in some time – and no one has made their presence felt more than Thompson.