The unlikely success story of Diamondbacks reliever Ryan Thompson

Oct 11, 2023, 10:49 AM

Diamondbacks reliever Ryan Thompson...

Arizona Diamondbacks RP Ryan Thompson, Giants at Diamondbacks September 21, 2023 (Jeremy Schnell/Arizona Sports)

(Jeremy Schnell/Arizona Sports)

Less than two months ago, Arizona Diamondbacks relief pitcher Ryan Thompson was out of a job.

He had spent three years with the Tampa Bay Rays before he was designated for assignment on Aug. 16 and was released the next day.

Fast forward to October. Over the past week or so, he has been pitching in some of the highest-leverage situations that exist in baseball and has been lights out. In three appearances, he’s surrendered zero runs and one hit in 4.0 innings.

“I’m just trying to execute and give my team a chance to make a play behind me,” Thompson said after the D-backs’ 4-2 victory Monday over the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

His unlikely tale of 2023 postseason success is also a tale of perseverance and redemption.

Before arriving in the desert to play for the D-backs, the 31-year-old reliever had appeared in just more than 100 games in the big leagues with the Rays after arriving in Tampa in 2018 as a Rule 5 selection from the Houston Astros.

In 2020, he made his MLB debut and eventually helped pitch his team to the World Series, surrendering a paltry two earned runs in 9.1 innings in the postseason.

As 2021 began, the submariner Thompson was just as dominant. He had a 2.38 ERA in 34 innings, but right shoulder issues led to injuries and several stints on the injured list.

In September 2021, he had right thoracic outlet syndrome surgery.

He made it back to the Rays for some stints with the big-league club in 2022 but was mostly shuttled between the Triple-A Durham Bulls and the injured list.

Early in 2023, it looked like Thompson might be back to 2020-21 form. Although he came out of the gates strong with a 2.35 ERA in 7.2 innings and eight appearances, May was not so kind.

In the season’s second month, Thompson again appeared in eight games but surrendered nine earned runs for an 11.05 ERA.

He was optioned to Durham again and made only two more appearances for the Rays.

That’s when the D-backs came calling.

Signed to a minor league contract on Aug. 19, he spent one week with the Reno Aces.

The rest, as they say, is living history. Since his first appearance in an Arizona uniform on Aug. 27 against the Cincinnati Reds, he’s given up just one run in 13 innings.

And if Thompson and the D-backs’ bullpen keep putting up zeroes, they will be very hard to beat.

“I think we have a real good thing going the last month or so. We are really confident in each other,” Thompson told reporters Tuesday. “Other teams are going to have to play their best baseball just to get one game from us.”

Arizona Diamondbacks

Tarik Skubal...

Alex Weiner

Arizona native, Tigers ace Tarik Skubal dices up Diamondbacks

Tigers ace and Arizona native Tarik Skubal threw six shutout innings in his first career start against the Diamondbacks. 

3 hours ago


Arizona Sports Video

Video: Torey Lovullo says Corbin Carroll will find his way out of early season slump

Video: Felisa Cárdenas and Jeremy Schnell/Arizona Sports Subscribe to the Arizona Sports daily newsletter: Read articles from Arizona Sports: Download the Arizona Sports app: Sign up for texts from Arizona Sports: Listen live to Arizona Sports: Follow the team: ARIZONA SPORTS SOCIAL MEDIA Facebook: X: TikTok: Instagram: ARIZONA SPORTS PODCASTS:

7 hours ago

Javier Baez...

Arizona Sports

Diamondbacks-Tigers preview: Pitching probables, Torkelson returns to the Valley

What to watch for this weekend as the Diamondbacks host the Tigers for three games, including pitching matchups.

7 hours ago

General view of action during the MLB spring training game between the Chicago Cubs and the Los Ang...

Bailey Leasure

Chicago Cubs plan to make upgrades to spring training facility Sloan Park

The city of Mesa and the Chicago Cubs submitted documents for upgrades to Sloan Park, the Cubs' spring training facility.

1 day ago

pitcher Kevin Ginkel...

Alex Weiner

Diamondbacks’ Kevin Ginkel honing in on adjustment to landing platform

Arizona Diamondbacks standout reliever Kevin Ginkel is working on a mechanical issue to get back on track after tough week.

2 days ago

Brandon Pfaadt...

Alex Weiner

Diamondbacks’ Brandon Pfaadt dominates with sweeper in win over Reds

Diamondbacks starter Brandon Pfaadt is on a roll, showing "no-hit stuff" in a gem outing Wednesday against the Reds. 

2 days ago

The unlikely success story of Diamondbacks reliever Ryan Thompson