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The Journal Gazette

Monday, June 11, 2018 5:50 pm

Pregame: Lansing-TinCaps

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

On Sunday, the TinCaps played arguably their best game of the season. They'll be hard-pressed to repeat that performance, which saw them beat the visiting Lansing Lugnuts 15-0, but if they do they'll take three of four games in the series from a team that entered the set boasting the best road record in the Midwest League.

For the fourth day in a row, rain is threatening to intervene in this game. It did so in the late innings of Sunday's matchup, which were played in a steady downpour, but the first three games of this series have been played without a delay, so hopefully that luck will hold tonight.

To try to clinch a series victory, the TinCaps will send right-hander Mason Thompson to the mound. Thompson has had an up-and-down campaign and his last few starts have been mostly unimpressive. He gave up three runs in five innings against the South Bend Cubs in his most recent outing, although he did strike out four and walk none. It was the first time all season that Thompson had not walked a batter in a start.

Fangraphs recently published their Top Prospects list for the San Diego Padres and prospect expert Eric Longenhagen ranked Thompson the No. 22 prospect in the organization.

Here's how he characterized the 6-foot-7 starter: "Thompson has been solid as a pro, sitting 89-94 mph (without much movement) and showing good feel for his changeup. He’s off to a rough start in 2018 but still projects as a No. 4/5 (starter) at peak."

Thompson has been mostly 90-92 mph with his fastball this season, as I've talked about on this blog before, but he has hit 94 a couple of times and he has been very effective in those starts. Longenhagen's assessment that he's off to tough start this season is mostly true, as Thompson has posted a 5.82 ERA in his 10 starts, but he's had a couple of very good ones and has shown plenty of potential.

Thompson will take on right-hander Colton Laws, who has posted a nearly identical 5.85 ERA. Like the Fort Wayne right-hander, the Lansing pitcher has been up and down this season, mixing very good outings with disastrous starts. His last three starts illustrate that point well: Laws pitched five shutout innings and gave up just three hits last Wednesday, but in the two outings before that he surrendered 12 runs on 16 hits in 9 1/3 innings. Which version of Laws shows up will go a long way toward determining the outcome of this game.

Laws' defining characteristic this season has been a lack of walks. In 32 1/3 innings, he's only issued three walks, including just one in his last five starts. The TinCaps' offense has shown patience in this series, but it totaled a season-high 19 hits in its victory Sunday, so Fort Wayne will be ready to hit if Laws gives them strikes.