Keegan Thompson playing a pivotal role for the Cubs in 2022
There’s a little competition amongst the Cubs relievers this season.
The group, in an effort to push each other and be effective, are keeping tabs on a pair of stats — inherited runners and inherited runners scored.
“That’s one thing we’re trying to work on in the bullpen and just pass the line and keep guys, other runs from scoring,” righty Keegan Thompson said prior to Monday’s opener against the Rays.
Thompson is the clubhouse leader so far.
Monday, he entered in the 5th inning with one out and a pair of runners on base. It took him 1 pitch to induce an inning-ending double play, marking the 4th and 5th inherited runners he’s prohibited from scoring.
Thursday in Colorado, he entered the game in the 5th inning with bases loaded and 2 outs and induced a lineout to escape that jam.
“He comes in and he pounds the zone,” David Ross said. “Runners get on, he’s quick to the plate. He’s got multiple weapons.”
Thompson is proving to be an important weapon for Ross and the Cubs. He’s pitched 9.2 shutout innings for the Cubs in relief, striking out 10, allowing a 0.62 WHIP and being efficient in the process. Monday night he needed just 39 pitches to get through 3.2 innings of work.
“I think every team needs probably one or two guys that can give them some length,” Thompson said. “[Someone] that can give them a spot start if somebody needs a day of rest or just getting somebody out of the bullpen to save the rest of the guys, give the guys a couple extra days off.”
That’s exactly what he did on Monday night. After 4.1 innings from starter Kyle Hendricks, Ross was able to turn to Thompson who pitched through the 8th inning and allowed David Robertson to pick up the save. For a team that’s in the midst of a 13-games-in-13-days stretch, that’s crucial.
Thompson’s preparation for the role he’s in started months before the season started.
As he began his offseason routine, he prepared himself both mentally and physically to be a starter.
“I didn’t wanna come into spring and prepare to be a bullpen guy and then get thrown into long innings or starting role so,” Thompson said.
So, now as he takes on a task in where he’s going multiple innings and going through a rotation more than once, he’s more than ready for it. A second season in the big leagues has allowed him to gain poise in his ability to thrive in that role or any other responsibility for that matter.
“Just seeing more hitters at the big-league level and learning them, it’s definitely gotta give him more confidence and just being around the guys,” Hendricks said. “Being in this group in the clubhouse, all the guys know how good he is now, so he’s kind of just running with that.”