Cubs rotation evolution: Thompson to start Saturday


The Cubs are officially adding another rookie to their starting rotation, come Saturday.

Right-hander Keegan Thompson is scheduled to start the second game against the Royals, Cubs manager David Ross announced Friday.

“When you have guys that have come through the system,” Ross said, “worked really hard, put in the time, continue to get better, and try to try to come up and help the organization, that's really important.”

Thompson joins Justin Steele, another homegrown pitcher who debuted this season, in the rotation. Thompson and Steele both spent early parts of the season in the bullpen, before stretching out in Triple-A to return as starters.

Rookie right-hander Adbert Alzolay is on the 10-day injured list with a left hamstring strain. He threw a bullpen Friday, Ross said, and “hopefully, he’s not too far away.” Alzolay becomes eligible to return from the IL on Tuesday.

“It’s pretty special for me,” Alzolay said last week of his fellow rookie pitchers, “because they're getting that opportunity to do what they know how to do, which is being starting pitchers. They've been doing it through their whole minor league careers.

“So, I feel that now everything that is going on is a good chance for them to go these one and a half (months) that we have left and show that they can be part of this rotation and we can do something special going into 2022 and beyond.”

Thompson, in four starts for Triple-A Iowa the past few weeks, has not allowed a run. He threw 4 1/3 innings in his last outing.

“When you have these guys go down there and dominate, which they should,” Ross said, “and the success he's had here, just getting his pitch count up, it's a good indication that as soon as they're ready to be able to start to give some length, then they're ready (to come up).”

Thompson posted a 2.21 ERA with the big-league squad before being optioned to Triple-A to stretch out.

Nico Hoerner nearing rehab assignment

Cubs infielder Nico Hoerner (right oblique strain) took batting practice on the field Friday and joined the infielders for ground balls.

“He'll work through the weekend,” Ross said, “and everything goes smooth, hopefully get off on a (rehab) assignment, maybe early next week.”

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