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Ian Thomas makes first MLB start, earns win over Mets in New York (includes video link)

Thomas in NY

Ian Thomas pitching at Citi Field in New York on Friday, July 24 in his first MLB start for the Dodgers against the Mets. Thomas also became the first former Revolution pitcher to start a Major League game. Earning the win, his line was: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K in a 7-2 Dodgers victory. PHOTO: Elsa/Getty Images.

In his third appearance with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the first Major League start for Ian Thomas also made the lefty the first former York Revolution pitcher to start a Major League game.  Thomas started July 24 against the Mets in New York, in place of Zack Grienke who was away from the Dodgers on the paternity list, to be with his wife as his first-born arrived.

It was a perfect storm of publicity for the former Revolution reliever (’12), between it being a Friday night, in New York City and subbing for the most dominant pitcher in baseball at the moment.  The fact Thomas is with a big market club certainly didn’t hurt either.

In his usual calm and collected manner, the 28-year-old delivered in the spotlight.  Over five innings, Thomas held the Mets to just three hits and one earned run, didn’t walk anyone and struck out five.  The only run against him was an RBI groundout to second by Mets super-prospect Michael Conforto in the fifth, as last year’s 10th overall draft pick made his Major League debut against Thomas, up right from Double-A.  The five Mets Thomas struck out:  Curtis Granderson, Daniel Murphy, Wilmer Flores, Lucas Duda and Danny Muno.  For video of those five punch outs and a couple of other highlights, CLICK HERE.  That video is narrated by by Charlie Steiner and former Dodgers pitching great (and former Bowling Green Falcon!) Orel Hershiser via the L.A. TV feed.  On the Mets broadcast, the Revolution were given a shoutout as one of Thomas’s former clubs by play-by-play man Gary Cohen, while Mets analyst Ron Darling gave the Revs coaching staff (manager Andy Etchebarren and then-pitching coach Mark Mason) credit for helping develop his change-up while he was in York in 2012.  The former Mets hurler did his homework before this particular broadcast.

In a 7-2 Dodgers triumph, which included a two-run Yasiel Puig homer and a three-hit, home run, two RBI night from former Met Justin Turner in support, Thomas earned his second Major League win, his first coming on April 27 of last year with the Braves in Atlanta against Cincinnati.

In his first Major League at-bat in the second inning, (he did not bat with Atlanta last season), Thomas had the bases loaded and grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.  Unfortunately you don’t get a RBI for bringing in a run on a double play ball, but it’s worth noting that Thomas did produce a run the first time he swung a big league stick.  (Enrique Hernandez scored, giving the Dodgers a 2-0 lead at the time.)  In his second at-bat in the third inning, Thomas grounded back to Mets pitcher Jon Niese for a 1-3 putout, capping an 0-for-2 day at the plate.  It’s doubtful anyone with the Dodgers minded with the way he pitched, but his first MLB hit will have to wait for another game.  (But when it does happen, it will get its own blog post!)

Thomas had been strictly a reliever as a pro when the Braves plucked him off York’s roster in May of 2012, and Atlanta had dabbled in converting him to a starter, even after his rapid ascent through their farm system and finding success out of their bullpen at the MLB level.  After he was part of the Juan Uribe-Alberto Callaspo trade between the Braves and Dodgers in May of this season, the Dodgers likewise viewed him as a starter long-term despite some success as a big league reliever with them as well.  Five of Thomas’s first eight appearances for the Triple-A Oklahoma City Dodgers this season were starts.  After Thomas had two separate call-ups with Atlanta last season, appearing in 16 Major League games, his call back to the Dodgers to start July 24 was already his FIFTH recall to the Majors this season alone.  While Thomas will likely continue to be the “swing guy” between Triple-A and The Show, hopefully with increased success at the big league level he’ll soon shed that role he’s had the last two seasons with Atlanta and L.A., and end up as a more consistent part of L.A.’s plans.

Thomas’s strikeout ability was well known to the Braves, Dodgers and any other teams that may have had an eye on him, and as a Major Leaguer he has not disappointed.  In his first 24 MLB games, Thomas fanned 26 batters (including his first MLB strikeout, of Bryce Harper, last season) in 25 innings pitched.  (10 2/3 with the Braves last season, and 14 1/3 total MLB innings this year.)  If you’re scoring at home, that’s a tick better than one strikeout per inning against big league batters.

-Paul Braverman



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