Blue Jays: Trent Thornton encouraging, but not out of the woods yet

dvalente
CLEVELAND, OHIO - APRIL 05: Starting pitcher Trent Thornton #57 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the first inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on April 05, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OHIO - APRIL 05: Starting pitcher Trent Thornton #57 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the first inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on April 05, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

Trent Thornton was very solid against the Orioles in his return from the IL, but there may be reasons to keep your optimism in check for now.

There is no denying that Trent Thornton has had a rocky second half, as his ERA has ballooned and he has spent time on the Injured List. However, the right-hander did show signs of life in his return performance against the Baltimore Orioles.

Thornton pitched six innings, allowing just one run, no walks and only five hits. It was great to see the 25-year-old right-hander regain his footing, but Thornton is not out of the woods yet, as there have been numerous signs that signal a cause for concern with the rookie.

The truth is that Thornton’s great outing against the Orioles should have been expected, not only has he handled the Orioles all season but he has made a living off bullying losing teams as well.

Thornton vs: Teams under .500

2-1, 2.92 ERA

0.95 WHIP

Teams over .500

2-6, 6.49 ERA

1.79 WHIP

While it is exciting to see Thornton show a return to form against the basement-dwelling Orioles, anything less of a superb performance would have been disappointing. The real test for the 25-year old will likely come later this week as he takes on the Tampa Bay Rays as teams with a winning record have given Thornton fits this season.

Thornton has allowed over four earned runs in four of his last six starts, giving up five and seven earned runs in his last starts against the Boston Red Sox, and another five to the New York Yankees. Which ball club was it where he allowed less than four earned runs? You guessed it, the Orioles.

To be fair, expecting a pitcher to dominate juggernauts like the Yankees and Red Sox is a lot to ask for, especially from a pitcher getting his first sniff of the big leagues. What is a greater cause for concern is Thornton’s progression through the season, as his ERA has risen every month since May, while his strikeout and ground ball rates have been dropping.

May: 4.02 ERA, 9.19 K/9, 31.7 GB%

June: 4.78 ERA, 8.89 K/9, 26.2 GB%

July: 11.08 ERA, 6.23 K/9, 24.5 GB%

More from Jays Journal

Even in Thornton’s first start in August against the Orioles, he managed to strike out just two batters over six innings. This seems like a far cry from the pitcher who was setting Blue Jays records for strikeouts as a rookie early in the season. It seems that Thornton lost his footing throughout the early months of summer and there are a few educated guesses as to why.

Thornton was placed on the Injured List a couple of weeks ago with elbow inflammation, and perhaps the injury was causing the rookie pitcher trouble throughout his previous starts. Another possibility is that Thornton is getting close to hitting the rookie wall as fatigue catches up to him.

Thornton has never thrown more than 135 innings at any level in his career and he is currently sitting at 105 innings pitched with two more months of baseball to go. The 25-year old has also never started more than 23 games in a year and he is currently one start away from tying his career high.

Next. Well, that went better than expected. dark

With all this in mind, it will be interesting to watch how Thornton pitches during the last quarter of the season, and while he showed signs of encouragement, he is not out of the dark just yet.

facebooktwitterreddit