St. Louis Cardinals left-hander Zack Thompson can use the rest of this season to audition for a spot in next year's rotation.
The process will continue Friday when Thompson (2-4, 3.96 ERA) starts against the visiting New York Mets in the second game of a four-game series.
Thompson has made 16 of his 17 major league appearances this season coming out of the bullpen, but he spent time in the Triple-A Memphis rotation earlier this season to transition into a starting role.
He is trying to emulate one of the top left-handed pitchers of this generation. "Clayton Kershaw has left a pretty good blueprint for a fastball-curveball-slider lefty," Thompson said. "I'm just trying to follow his lead a little bit."
Thompson credits his improved slider for his recent success.
"I'd argue that right now it's my most comfortable pitch," Thompson said. "I think I command it the best. It just gives them a funky look. It gives them a third look. Like I said, Kershaw has shown that that's a good mix, and he leans on the slider heavily. So I'm just taking a little page out of his book with that one."
Thompson suffered a tough-luck 1-0 loss in his one previous start this season, against the Colorado Rockies on Aug. 6. He allowed just two hits in four innings while striking out eight and walking one.
He pitched four innings of relief against Kansas City on Aug. 11, holding the Royals to one run on four hits. He struck out five and walked nobody.
This will be his first career appearance against the Mets.
The Mets will fill their rotation gap with left-hander Joey Lucchesi (1-0, 4.43) on Friday. He has spent the bulk of the season at Triple-A Syracuse and he recently recovered from a bout of knee tendinitis.
"I'm hoping that Lucchesi takes advantage of another opportunity," Mets manager Buck Showalter said. "Guys are trying to make somewhat of a statement that could be in the mix for us down the road. So he's going to get another chance. Plus we want to give our starters an extra day (of rest) there."
Lucchesi was 6-3 with a 3.99 ERA in 12 outings at Syracuse, including 11 starts. His near-term future with the Mets beyond this start is uncertain.
"We're going to see," Showalter said. "See how things work out, where we are with the bullpen. That's kind of a day-to-day thing right now."
Lucchesi is 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in two career starts against the Cardinals.
The Mets put infielder Mark Vientos on the 10-day injured list Thursday because of a wrist injury and selected outfielder Abraham Almonte from Syracuse.
The Cardinals placed infielder Nolan Gorman on the 10-day IL on Thursday due to his lower-back strain. They recalled outfielder Richie Palacios from Triple-A Memphis to take his roster spot.
Outfielder Lars Nootbaar (lower abdomen contusion) was placed on the 10-day injured list Thursday. The Cardinals called up shortstop Masyn Winn from Triple-A Memphis to take Nootbaar's spot on the roster.
—Field Level Media