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August 23, 2016

Thompson hit hard again as Phils get whitewashed in Chicago

The last time the Phillies visited U.S. Cellular Field on the South Side of Chicago for a series with the White Sox, Larry Bowa was their manager and Citizens Bank Park was a little more than two months old.

And just as with Tuesday night, the Phillies sent a promising rookie right-hander to the mound in the first game of the series. In 2004, that young right-hander made his first big league start and surrendered more home runs (three) than he recorded outs (two) and was out of the game before his own team had the chance to hit.

Here’s the good news for Jake Thompson: that other right-hander, Oakland closer and 2008 Phillies alum Ryan Madson, is still pitching in the major leagues a dozen years later.

Thompson was able to get out of the first inning of his start on Tuesday night in Chicago, but he is still looking for his first major league start when he can pitch more than five innings. And, well, have some success.

The White Sox scored one off of Thompson in the opening inning and then three each in both the third and fifth innings en route to a 9-1 rout over the Phillies.

Thompson was charged with seven runs in five innings, raising his ERA to a ghastly 9.78 after his first four major league starts. On Tuesday night, Thompson faced 25 batters; nearly half of those batters (12) reached on a hit (eight) or a walk (four).

The 22-year-old Thompson, one of five prospects the Phillies got back from the Texas Rangers in the Cole Hamels trade 13 months ago who was dominating Triple-A hitters in the International League this summer, has a 1.81 WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) through his first four major league starts.

To put that WHIP into perspective: of the 218 major league starting pitchers who have pitched at least 20 innings this season, only 12 have a WHIP higher than 1.81. (Thompson doesn’t qualify for this list since he has pitched 19 1/3 innings so far).

 Alec Asher, remember him? Asher, who also came to the Phillies in the aforementioned Hamels trade 13 months ago, began a rehab assignment on Tuesday with the Gulf Coast League Phillies. Asher, 24, could join the Phillies when his 80-game PED suspension expires in two weeks. 

  Asher was dreadful in his seven-start stint with the Phils at the end of last season (9.31 ERA) but he added a two-seam fastball to his repertoire over the winter and had a 2.30 ERA in eight starts between Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley, along with 35 strikeouts and just seven walks in 54 2/3 innings. 

 • Speaking of Asher, his ERA after his first four starts with the Phillies last season: 9.78, exactly the same as Thompson's after his first four big league starts this month. 

 Here's how the two of the pitchers acquired in the Hamels trade (along with Jerad Eickhoff, catcher Jorge Alfaro, outfielder Nick Williams, and Matt Harrison's contract), stack up next to each other in each of their first four MLB starts:

 Thompson 19 1/3 22 21 13/139.78 
Asher 19 1/3  30 2111/7 9.78 
  • Chicago White Sox left-hander Carlos Rodon had his way with Phillies hitters on Tuesday, holding them to three hits in 6 2/3 shutout innings. Rodon was the third overall pick in the 2014 draft, selected four picks before the Phils chose Aaron Nola

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @ryanlawrence21