Wittenmyer: Now it’s time for Keegan Thompson to get started, originally on NBC Sports Chicago
What does the Cubs’ best pitcher need this season to get a chance to help out a beleaguered rotation and make a start or two?
A Veteran’s Injury? A few blings from the $71 million free agent? Another member of the rotation who only lasted three innings on Sunday because his command waned as he “tired”?
And, for heaven’s sake, check.
Keegan Thompson was the Cubs’ dominant pitcher for 16 games that season — with 14 strikeouts and just three walks in 13 2/3 innings scoreless over four relief games of at least 2 2/3 innings each (and that one was only so short because he was kicked out , for throwing Andrew McCutchen to the ground).
Best Cubs pitcher? This guy is the best pitcher in the majors.
And you could look it up.
Through Sunday, Thompson leads the majors in Pitchers WAR (per baseball-reference.com), the only one in the top 10 who hasn’t made a start yet.
For comparison, Max Scherzer, who makes $43 million a year, is 3-0 in three starts for the Mets with a 2.50 ERA and rating half of Thompson’s 1.2 WAR.
“Being able to bring him in is a real weapon,” said manager David Ross after Friday’s lights out finish against the Pirates.
Thompson came on in the sixth with one on and no out, trailing 4-2, then getting a quick double play and ending the remainder of a scoreless outing with just 13 batters in the four innings.
“Talk about keeping it right there and giving us every opportunity to make an impact offensively,” Ross said. “Such a trip is extremely valuable.”
But the Cubs did nothing offensively and lost the game.
How about a gun: Get your best pitcher in the rotation and go in the sixth inning a little more every fifth day.
How “extremely valuable” would that look now — with the Cubs staring at a 5.60 rotational ERA, with Wade Miley and Alec Mills still working from injuries and powerful left-hander Justin Steele “tired” during a 79-pitch start will”. that barely got him through the third inning?
Ross said he likes Thompson in the role he’s in now. Thompson said he’s always ready to field the Cubs.
But Thompson also said he prepared during the offseason to start if needed. And while he’s not sure he’s “built up per se” because even his four-inning outing was so efficient he didn’t throw more than 48 pitches in a game, Thompson looks poised, now as a starter to fight four or five innings.
Putting him on the rotation is certainly no guarantee of sudden success. But what is certain is that what the Cubs have on a couple of rotation points now isn’t working.
So have Thompson host a bullpen session in Atlanta on Tuesday, put him on the rotation Thursday or Friday, Steele switch to Thompson’s role in the bullpen, and adjust as needed when Mills and Miley are ready to join the staff.
There’s your gun.
Now that we got the pitching figured out, about this shortstop situation…
In recent days, the Rockies avoided a midseason arbitration hearing with beginning pitcher Kyle Freeland when they agreed to a five-year, $64.5 million contract extension, and the Marlins avoided the same awkward midseason confrontation with infielder Joey Wendle (over a year). mutual option $4.625 million).
The Cubs and Wilson Contreras?
The sides remain on a collision course for a June hearing, with no talks since March’s exchange of figures ($10.25 million and $9 million), despite Contreras’ willingness to initially file in his final year of arbitration to avoid a career.
But the two-time All-Star starter, who has gotten off to a prolific start this season, said he’s in a good place regardless of upcoming deals and is focused on family (who is with him now in Chicago) and the efforts of the Cubs continue the field.
Statistics of the week
The Cubs are 6-9 if they hit 20 or fewer runs in a game this season.
Since Corey Seager intentionally walked with loaded bases in the fourth inning of a game his Angels were then lagging behind, Joe Maddon’s boys have gone 6-3 (through Sunday) – third place in the AL West with a record loss. to a game with the best record in the American League.
Never forget: trust the process.
Heading to Milwaukee for the Cubs series this weekend? Planning on stumbling around downtown on a Friday or Saturday night with an appetite?
Stumble upon Milwaukee’s famed George Webb breakfast and burger joint near 3rd and Wells, just a few blocks northwest of Mo’s — but check hours first. Traditionally open all night, they sometimes adjust based on staffing levels, but they say they’re expecting the usual hours with the Cubs around town.
The breakfast is post-Miller perfect, with a sausage scrambler worthy of any waffle house south of the Ozarks.
But for an absolute can’t-miss dose of hangover medication, grab a delicious bag of burgers. Like seven cheeseburgers for $15 plus tax—two orders of beer-soaked fries included.
Anyone who answers the phone will tell you, “It’s a good deal.”
Take the poll
Saturday’s 21-0 win over the Pirates was the Cubs’ widest lead in a shutout win in 147 years of franchise history, but it’s no more surprising than the fact that the Cubs have defeated the Pirates in their six other games only Have scored 12 runs and went 1-5 in those games.
And is any of that more surprising than Marcus Stroman’s three-start winless struggles or the early dominance of Seiya Suzuki and Keegan Thompson?
Speaking of Suzuki – both…
Three Sandbergs have played in Major League Baseball, and the best of the three have played for the Cubs. Also, three Rizzos and three Zambranos have played in the majors, and in both cases the same as the Sandbergs did for the Cubs (actually, the Cubs employed two of the three Zambranos).*
With all the early hype surrounding unaffordable Rookie of the Year favorite Seiya Suzuki, that could be one of the more intriguing questions as Suzuki’s five-year deal with the Cubs unfolds from first impressions.
Best of MLB’s four Suzukis?
He’s already in front of Mac (look at him) and fast approaching Kurt.
As for the other Suzuki on the list, no one anoints Seiya for the next, or rather, Ichiro, who’s been into something for two weeks.
But both were perennial Gold Glove winners, All-Star outfielders, and former batting champions in NPB, both of whom signed with MLB teams during their 27-year seasons.
Ichiro earned 10 straight MLB All-Star appearances and earned Rookie of the Year and MVP in his freshman year; Seiya is the ROY favorite to earn League Player of the Week honors in his first week and has the looks of a 2022 All-Star.
And here’s the more interesting comparison, based on skill when Seiya has a healthy, reasonably productive run in the majors: His combination of power and strike zone command suggests a higher OPS cap than the .757 generated by the higher hit speed will -hung Ichiro.
Pretty stupid that he even put those 16 frigging games in the dude’s career? Yes, well, remember 2031, where you first read it.
*-Not so much MLB’s three trout.
Ex-Cub of the Week
Phillies outfielder Kyle Schwarber deserves this honor for his epic rage against referee Angel Hernandez and subsequent disqualification Sunday night in Philadelphia.
But he’d probably actually made it before Sunday.
That’s because Schwarber was 3-on-32 with 12 strikeouts, a .194 on-base percentage and .413 OPS, hitting the leadoff in the first eight games of the season for the Phils.
In seven games since Joe Girardi then edged him to fifth and sixth: 7 of 27 with three home runs, a double, a walk and .940 OPS.
Click here to subscribe to the Cubs Talk Podcast for free.
Download MyTeams today!