In front of a season-low crowd of 16, 056, Jake Thompson had his best start since being promoted to the big leagues Monday night against the first place Washington Nationals.
Unfortunately, the Phillies’ offense was shut out for the seventh time this season as they couldn’t solve Nationals right-hander Tanner Roark, who has not allowed a run to the Phillies in his last 14 innings pitched against them.
Thompson didn’t let the lack of run support affect him on the mound. While he finished with a solid line (7 IP, 2 ER, 7 H, 3 Ks, 1 BB), he didn’t necessarily dominate the Nationals’ lineup. Washington’s hitters made solid contact all night, but luckily the wind was blowing in and a lot of the hard hit balls found leather in the field.
Nonetheless, the 22-year-old was able to dig deep and shake off a rough first inning, where he surrendered two quick runs, and turn in seven solid innings for his ball club. What was even more impressive was how he finished: by striking out the side in a gutsy, 26-pitch seventh inning. His final and 111th pitch of the night was his best: a backdoor breaking ball that froze Trea Turner for a called strike three. Thompson knew it, and Cameron Rupp approved with a thumbs up.
Phillies (@Phillies) August 30, 2016
The start came at a great time for Thompson. He had just come off a beating at the hands of the Chicago White Sox (7 ER over 5 IP) and had an ERA of 9.78 heading into Monday night’s start. He’ll wake up Tuesday with a 7.86 ERA. Still not great, but it’s progress.
The biggest contributor to Thompson’s success Monday likely stemmed from a change in his delivery suggested by pitching coach Bob McClure. As the Inquirer’s Matt Gelb reported, McClure told Thompson to not raise his hands over his head in his windup and to not start his motion with a step backwards.
“We just tried to simplify his delivery, really,” McClure told Gelb.
Thompson agreed with McClure’s assessment.
“I’ve always taken the step back with the rock and turn,” Thompson said. “After watching some video and talking with him, I kind of decided that’s where most of my mistakes were coming from.”
The change, at least for one night, paid off in a big way for the right hander.
With just about one month and probably four to five starts left for the Texan this season, he can still turn around what has been, undoubtedly, a disappointing start to his big league career.
Hopefully Monday’s start provided the confidence he needs to right the ship.