While going back and forth on the Syracuse shuttle this season, Corey Thurman's had a pretty good year. He came up a couple of times without seeing any action, then finally pitched three innings of shutout relief against the Red Sox July 10. Three days later, he gave up a couple of walks, a hit and a run against the Yankees, followed by two perfect frames at Fenway on the 20th. That's a 1.42 ERA in 6.1 IP in the AL, and in his 14 AAA starts, he was 5-3, 4.46, with a couple of valid excuses.
First, he was learning a new pitch. Corey has pretty good command of an average fastball, and his deceptive changeup is his bread-and-butter, but he needed a breaking pitch, and it's been more important to master his new slider than to win. Also, he was returning to the rotation after spending an entire season in the Toronto bullpen as a Rule 5 steal. Though Thurman was named the best starter in the AA Texas League in 2001, it has taken a while to rebuild his stamina. The game Jordan saw him pitch a couple of months ago in Ottawa (and I caught on TV) was a good example; he dominated for four innings, began to weaken in the fifth and was gone in the sixth.
You can completely dismiss Corey's previous big-league start last September. Still a raw rookie who really wasn't sure he belonged, he was visibly nervous, hyperventilating and gassed by the third inning. I'm hoping for a more poised performance tonight; it would be a big success if he goes six innings and keeps his team in the game. Tom Wilson is the catcher, Reed Johnson is in LF, Dave Berg's at 2B and Mike Bordick plays third tonight, batting second against southpaw Jarrod Washburn. It all makes sense -- O-Dawg has been terrible from the right side, Cat hasn't hit anyone lately and Hinske's getting a routine night off, so Delgado's the only lefty bat in the lineup, and Tosca has plenty of firepower on the bench.