The wait for Keegan Thompson to come up and join similarly-tracked starter Justin Steele in the big league rotation may be over. Even as it has been uncertain just how many pitches Thompson would have to get up to in stretching out at Iowa, it sounds like they feel he’s at an appropriate level:
Ross said Plan A for Saturday is for Keegan Thompson to make his next start for the short-handed Cubs rotation. He threw 62 pitches in his last start Sunday at Iowa, where he has been stretching out for rotation audition down the stretch.
— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) August 18, 2021
Thompson has been lights out as a starter during this stretch out process, just as Justin Steele had been. In that way, their trajectories this year have been very similar, and I would argue their possible paths are pretty similar from here, too. In an ideal world, Thompson and Steele show you enough this year that you could think of them as likely – if not *certain* – starting pitcher contributors next year. Their presence, like that of Alec Mills and Adbert Alzolay, wouldn’t preclude you from making significant additions in free agency or trade (and the Cubs MUST do that if they want to compete in 2022), but it would give you comfort that you’ve got a lot of coverage for the inevitable rotation needs.
And, moreover, success this year in a starting role would give you even more confidence that, if they needed to swing in and out of the bullpen, they could pull it off, since it’s kinda what they were already asked to do this year (and both pitched exceptionally well as relievers).
I really look forward to seeing Thompson start. I also wouldn’t hate it if the Cubs left Adrian Sampson in the rotation after today (at least until Adbert Alzolay is ready to return), so they can go with the six-man rotation they were planning (lighten the load the rest of the way on the other starters).