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2023 Cubs player profiles: Keegan Thompson

Twenty-ninth in a series. Keegan Thompson isn’t having his best season, but he’s a prisoner of his own success, to a degree. He should be back before too long.

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St. Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs
Keegan Thompson shoving.
Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

There’s not much doubt that Keegan Cole Thompson will be back in Chicago — it’s just a matter of when. His stint in Iowa hasn’t gone well, and he still clearly has boxes to check. But Thompson has enough effectiveness and just plain nasty when he’s right that he’ll find a spot.

Even in this acknowledged ‘off year’, he’s good for 2-2, with an ERA of 4.22 and a WHIP of 1.31, with 16 strikeouts in 21⅓ innings. None of that is horribly out of line with his career norms, but perception is the key, and Thompson has been viewed as wanting.

He’ll need to do a bit more throwing before any kind of conclusion can be reached.

His teammates see the 28-year-old as somewhat laconic. Therefore it was seen as ironic when he was mic’d up. What do players talk about? Watch and learn.

That Astros game must have really messed Thompson’s head up. Sahadev Sharma {$} went so far as to say that the team was ‘shell-shocked’ by the extent of the Astros’ beatdown when they came back to win in walkoff fashion May 18th.

“It wasn’t very good,” David Ross said of Thompson’s outing.

“Things just aren’t going my way right now,” Thompson said. “Just had some hard contact today and this is a punch to the gut, I mean this just sucks. It’s hard. Sucks to let the team down.”

I guess he said that while packing, because Keegan Thompson was optioned May 19. His velocity has been slightly down and a lot of people feel that there may be a hidden injury. He hasn’t had much work in Des Moines and the Cubs are typically close-mouthed. If he isn’t hurt, then he’s in Iowa because he has MiLB options, which has been running a lot of Cub personnel decisions so far this year.

It’s getting to be that time of year when management needs to make those decisions they’ve been putting off. If Thompson is hurt, disable him. If he’s not, pitch him. Five innings pitched since the third week of May doesn’t inspire confidence.

When he pitches, Thompson has a five-pitch mix, as a former starter, but he relies most heavily on his 4-seam fastball and his excellent cutter, mixing in his slider some, his curve just a little, and throwing about one changeup a century. Thompson used to threw a sinker but he’s exchanged for one of the house special sweeping sliders, which sets up the fastball/cutter better. His mid-90s FB has a lot of movement, especially downward, and it’s hard to barrel when it’s on the corners. He gets hit when the ball gets too much plate, like most pitchers, and he does have occasional control issues — Thompson throws about a third of his pitches for balls. Perhaps he is just doing a little mechanical cleanup.

I imagine we’ll know before too much longer. Roster Jenga ahead.