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Cubs’ Keegan Thompson’s career-long start latest sign of growth

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Thompson’s Cubs career start is latest sign of growth originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

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After the release of the first single on Tuesday, cubs Starter Keegan Thompson needed just four innings to take the Reds out of the game in the first inning.

For Thompson, it was a sign that he had another impressive finish in June ahead of him with another strong performance.

Thompson threw in 6 1/3 effective innings – a new career high – while hitting eight without walks.

He was charged with four runs, two of which were scored after he was out.

“Kegan was very good at throwing the ball. He attacked,” said manager David Ross. “Lately he’s become old-fashioned, very good at throwing the ball.”

Thompson held Cincinnati up for 5 1/3 innings before they tagged him for two runs in the sixth.

He pulled out after allowing a pair of singles with one strikeout in the seventh and both runners hit Jonathan India’s homer with two strikeouts and three runs off Rowan Wick.

“It was good there,” Thompson said of his outing. “Tonight I felt good. Late, maybe I’m a little tired there.

“But I have to find a way to dig in and make those passes at the end and get through it. [seventh] inning.”

Thompson’s development in the rotation is an important storyline for the Cubs this season. Finishing those innings deeper in walks is part of his continued growth as a major league starting pitcher.

“Just keep being efficient and get it over with, go even deeper,” Ross said.

It’s not like he hasn’t grown yet.

“I mean, today was the peak of my career. [start] for him,” Ross said. “So, I don’t want to be negative about it.

“There’s always growth, and I’ve seen him keep growing every time he takes the mound.”

Thompson’s success as a pitcher this season has been reflected in his first few starts since the Cubs moved him to the rotation in late May. But earlier this month, he faced a difficult situation.

In consecutive starts with the Orioles and Yankees, Thompson allowed 12 runs (10 earned), pitching a total of 3 2/3 innings.

He bounced back after the last three games and ended June on a high note. Including Tuesday, Thompson has walked six-plus innings and struck out at least seven batters in his last three starts.

Numbers aside, Thompson’s poise on the mound is evident in the way he attacks. On Tuesday, he worked at a fast pace and hit the strike zone, giving 69 percent of his shots for hitting.

“I think pace is confidence,” said manager David Ross. “When you go straight for the guys, the rhythm he set that fastball to, right? For example: “Here I go.”

“Kegan is heading straight for you. This fast pace really puts you on the heels as an opponent. He did a good job.”

Two weeks ago, Thompson focused on throwing his four-seam fastball in the opening game against the Braves after giving it up against the Orioles and Yankees.

On Tuesday, he threw it 42 percent of the time and attributed his recent stretch to returning to that serve.

“I think I’m just practicing the fastball and trusting him to play in the strike zone,” he said.

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