Today the Cubs did some bullpen arm swapping, with Andrew Chafin off to Oakland and Keegan Thompson headed back to Triple-A. In their place, lefty Kyle Ryan and righty Cory Abbott are coming up.
Before you freak out about the Thompson option, recall that it’s very likely he’s being sent down to Iowa to stretch back out as a starting pitcher in a controlled environment, a la Justin Steele. The goal, after exposing Thompson to big league hitters out of the bullpen, is now to use the information gained to better hone his craft as a would-be starting pitcher. Get him a few big league starts in the second half, and then take THAT information to work on the offseason development and competing for a rotation spot in 2022. I really like the way the year has gone in that respect for Thompson and Steele.
Meanwhile, Ryan and Abbott are back, each having been up-down guys this year. Ryan more or less is what he is at this point, and will be pitching for a shot to get a shot at being in the bullpen next year. Abbott is still in the phase of getting exposure to big league bats, while working on execution at Triple-A Iowa. There’s big league starter potential there, but consistency with the fastball/slider combo needs more work. This time in the big leagues is valuable experience, though, and I do love Abbott’s delivery.