On Thursday, the Cubs reinstated left-handed pitcher Justin Steele from the ten-day injured list and optioned him to Triple-A Iowa. Steele has been on a rehab assignment. Before suffering a hamstring strain, Steele appeared in 11 games with the Cubs, all in relief. He has a 2.03 ERA and a ridiculous 37.5 strikeout percentage. He’s fanned 21 batters in 13.1 innings pitched.
According to Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer, the plan is to stretch Steele out. “Well more than a two-inning role. I think we’re going to put him in a role where he can face the lineup a couple times,” said Hoyer.
This isn’t new for Steele. He just hasn’t done it this season. In 84 career Minor League appearances, he’s started 75 of those games.
However, pitching in relief, he hasn’t needed to utilize his entire arsenal fully. In the Majors this season, he’s thrown 45.5 percent four-seam fastballs, 28.3 percent sliders, 19.3 percent sinkers, and 6.9 percent curveballs. He also throws a changeup, which he hopes to polish before starting with the big club.
Steele pitched 2.2 innings and allowed one run out of the bullpen on July 3 for Iowa. It was his longest outing since 2019.
The plan for Steele is to start Sunday’s game as the Iowa Cubs take on the St. Paul Saints at 1:08 pm CDT.
As for the current opening in the Cubs’ rotation following the placement of Jake Arrieta on the ten-day injured list, manager David Ross will hand the ball to Trevor Williams on Sunday to take on the St. Louis Cardinals. Freshly reinstated from the injured list himself, Williams pitched 3.2 innings and allowed three earned runs with three strikeouts and one walk on July 6.
He’s had his ups and downs. Williams has a 5.51 ERA in 11 appearances this season. We’ll have to see how long he sticks in the rotation. This could be a situation where Steele takes his spot as soon as he’s built up enough, especially considering their starts directly line up with one another.