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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, May 31, 2018 2:50 pm

Pregame: TinCaps (23-28) vs. Bowling Green (33-18)

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

After a washed out game Wednesday night, the TinCaps have a chance to sweep a doubleheader and take a series from a first-place team in one night. Both games will be seven innings, opening the possibility of the first complete game by a Fort Wayne starter this season.

Left-hander Nick Margevicius would be the most likely to reach that milestone, since he has gone seven innings in each of his last two starts, including seven shutout innings in his most recent outing. Margevicius has been one of the best pitchers in the league this year, relying on his usual excellent fastball command and a vastly improved curveball that has been a precision weapon for him in all counts.

If Margevicius pitches the TinCaps to a win in the first game, right-hander Mason Thompson will have a chance to propel his team to a series victory in the nightcap. The 6-foot-7 Thompson has had an up-and-down season, especially in May, when he had three good starts to open the month before regressing slightly in his last two starts, neither of which lasted more than 5 1/3 innings. On a more positive note, his early season command issues have been mostly under control. He's walked no more than three hitters in any start in May after giving out four or more free passes in three of four starts in April.

In Fangraphs' ranking of San Diego Padres prospects, Thompson checks in at No. 22, his big-league potential still evident to prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen.

"Thompson has been solid as a pro, sitting 89-94 (without much movement) and showing good feel for his changeup," Longenhagen wrote. "He’s off to a rough start in 2018 but still projects as a No. 4/5 (starter) at peak."

The "89-94" is the important point there. Thompson has been 90-91 much of this season, but has hit 94 a few times. If he gets there more consistently, he'll start to shut down opposing offenses.

The Hot Rods will counter with right-hander Josh Fleming. The 22-year-old didn't make his first start until May 6, but has been terrific in all four outings, pitching six innings three times. He's not a strikeout pitcher, but has induced a ton of weak contact this year, holding opposing hitters to a .232 batting average and walking only five. He's also stranded 87.5 percent of runners that have gotten on base against him, which has helped him compile a tiny 1.17 ERA. Fort Wayne could score against Fleming if it can get hits with runners on base.

After tonight's game, the TinCaps go back on the road for a six-game swing, so it would be a good morale-booster if they could take both contests in the doubleheader and win a series against a first-place team. It at least helps that they won't have to play the ninth inning in either game after giving away leads at that juncture in two of their last four.

Note: Pitcher Diomar Lopez was moved to Fort Wayne from Lake Elsinore, while pitcher Jared Carkuff was released.