Lefty Justin Steele has been dominant at Triple-A after being moved back to a starting role in preparation for a role in the Cubs rotation down the stretch. Through five starts with Iowa, he has a 0.87 ERA with 27 strikeouts over 20.2 innings and has been maintaining his upper-90’s velocity through the ends of his outings. That’s enough proof for the Cubs that he’s ready for his audition for the future.
As Patrick Mooney reported Saturday, Steele will be promoted to make a start during the Cubs’ upcoming four-game set against the Brewers at Wrigley. The southpaw has been pitching on five days’ rest in Iowa and last pitched on August 4, which would put him on schedule to start Tuesday’s game. Mooney further reported that the Cubs are eyeing a six-man rotation, so Steele would stay on the same cadence and Adbert Alzolay will get a little more rest over the next few weeks.
Justin Steele will be promoted from Triple A and make his next start vs. Milwaukee at Wrigley Field as part of a 6-man rotation. With so much flexibility in 2022, the Cubs are also making evaluations on Adbert Alzolay and what a next core could look like. https://t.co/XNaOCJF4CB
— Patrick Mooney (@PJ_Mooney) August 7, 2021
Or rather, that he’s ready for his re-audition after impressing out of the bullpen before a hamstring injury sent him to the IL in May. If Jed Hoyer is serious about this rebuild being on a much shorter timeline than what he helped guide a decade ago, the Cubs are going to need top-flight pitching in a hurry.
Getting some of that from within the system would be a tremendous help for an organization that put itself in this position in large part due to its abject failure to develop arms. Steele and Alzolay represent the tip of the spear in that regard, but there is also a bevy of hard-throwing relievers that should be matriculating to Chicago very soon.
Regardless of how you feel about the front office’s recent moves and the team’s professed inability/lack of desire to spend big on its own players, it’s exciting to see young pitchers coming up and doing well. It’ll be even more exciting if Jed Hoyer isn’t forced to rely solely on those young pitchers over the next few years.