On Monday, former Windy City ThunderBolt Tommy Nance made his Major League debut for the Chicago Cubs, throwing a perfect ninth inning to wrap up a 7-3 win over the Washington Nationals. He became the fourth player in franchise history to play in the big leagues.
Nance was signed by the ThunderBolts as a rookie out of Santa Clara in 2015 and his professional career got off to a shaky start. His ERA was nearing seven in early July before he turned his season around. Over his final 19 appearances, he posted a 3.47 ERA and his last six outings were all scoreless. During that 19-game stretch, he had 28 strikeouts and only five walks. By the end of the year, he had worked his way into the closer’s role, saving three games over the season’s final ten days. That January, his contract was purchased by the Chicago Cubs.
Nance also had a rocky road through the Cubs’ system. He had to fight his way through injuries that cost him his entire 2017 season and parts of 2018 and 2019. He also sat out all of 2020 when the Minor League campaign was canceled.
When he was able to get on the mound, though, he was always effective. In 71 career games with Cubs affiliates, he has a 3.33 ERA and 122 strikeouts in 113.2 innings. He pitched in three games at Triple-A prior to his call up this year and allowed just two base runners while striking out ten over six innings.
Nance is the first former ThunderBolt to make a Major League roster since Ryan Bollinger was briefly with the New York Yankees in 2018. The last ex-Bolt to make his big league debut had been Andrew Werner, who started eight games for the San Diego Padres in 2012. Nance is the fourth player in franchise history to appear in a Major League game after Chris Oxspring, Dylan Axelrod and Werner.