After pitching a career-high 6⅓ innings in the Chicago Cubs’ 5-3 loss, Keegan Thompson looks to take the next step – The Denver Post


Keegan Thompson’s self-assessment, shortly after pitching the deepest into a start in his big-league career, took on a big-picture vibe.

The right-hander threw a career-high 6⅓ innings in the Chicago Cubs’ 5-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field, relying on early-innings efficiency. However, he wasn’t satisfied with how his outing ended. Manager David Ross went to the bullpen once Thompson surrendered back-to-back one-out singles in the seventh.

Two batters later, Jonathan India connected for a three-run homer off reliever Rowan Wick to extend the Reds lead to 5-0. It began a stretch of three consecutive hits Wick allowed, ending his night after only one out.

For Thompson, it was the second time in three starts he pitched into the seventh. He was on the verge of tallying his third straight quality start. He has 24 strikeouts and only three walks over 24⅓ innings in that stretch.

Next up: figuring out how to close out the seventh.

“I felt good tonight, but late I got maybe a little tired there,” Thompson said. “But I’ve got to find a way to dig down and make those pitches there at the end and get through that inning.”

Thompson’s plan to make that a reality focuses on conditioning, recovery and continuing his work in the days between starts. Closing out later innings is one of the next steps in Thompson’s development as a big-league starter.

Ross said the goal was to get Thompson through the seventh. He entered the inning at 81 pitches.

“Whether he was running out of gas a little bit, you could see at the back end of the sixth where his stuff was starting to tick off,” Ross said. “He got the rest (between innings) and got that first-pitch out in the seventh and then just wasn’t able to close it out. I tried to help him out with that.

“Just continue to be able to be efficient and finish that goal to go even deeper — tonight was a career high for him, so I don’t want to be negative in that. But, yeah, there’s always growth and I’ve seen him continue to grow every time he takes the mound.”

Thompson’s efficiency started with his fastball command before incorporating his secondary stuff as he faced the Reds hitters for a second and third time. He finished with 11 called strikes on fastballs.

He also flashed a slider he has been working on between starts in bullpen sessions the last three to four weeks, getting three whiffs on the Reds’ three swings against it.

“Tempo is confidence,” Ross said. “When you’re coming right at guys, the rhythm at which he’s established that fastball, like, here I come. I think it’s always on the attack. … Pace really puts you on your heels as an opposing offense.”



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