Zack Thompson is starting tonight. No, not Zach from Pittsburgh, Zack from St. Louis. Zack will be making the first start of his career tonight, and in this matchup I am already willing to back him.
Zack was a first round pick by the Cardinals in 2019. He was solid in his initial season, then missed all of 2020. When he returned for 2021, he really struggled but the Cards chalked it up to rust and lack of experience. Zack was able to turn it around so far this year in the minors. Zack had a 30.1 K% through 10 starts in AAA this season (56 K in 44.1 innings) before getting the call up. He debuted against the Cubs out of the bullpen and earned a save after pitching 4 innings of relief. Zack’s scouting report shows a 4 pitch arsenal featuring an average slider, above average fastball and change up combo, and his curveball is the star of the show. He has a sweeping curve that comes in about 77 MPH, and I think it should yield some good results vs this Pirates offense.
Backing a rookie is risky, and likely not something I would do in most scenarios. This one I can not quite resist. The Pirates have worked up the 3rd most K per game in the league at 9.21. They are averaging 13 per game over their last 5 games, and average the most K per game on the road at 10.32. The Pirates have the 4th worst K rate vs lefties for the season, and have the league’s worst over the last 30 days. I am backing the Rookie to bring his 30.1 minor league K rate with him tonight in a dream matchup. I would take this prop up to 4.5, which I would anticipate that's where this will move to.