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Justin Steele Day: What to Watch For in His First Career Start

Justin Steele makes his highly anticipated first MLB start in game one of the Cubs four-game set with the Brewers.
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Chicago Cubs

Justin Steele

Justin Steele's first career MLB start will not be in a nine-inning game. Due to severe weather on Monday, the Cubs and Brewers are playing a split doubleheader on Tuesday. Similar to 2020 league rules, the teams will play two seven-inning games.

In wake of said change, the Cubs will have Justin Steele start game one at 1:20 p.m. rather than his originally scheduled start under the lights.

Steele's first start will have the Cubs' fan nation on the edge of their seats as they prepare for the future. Steele joins Adbert Alzolay as one of two pitchers under the microscope for the remainder of the 2021 season. The news surrounding the young pitchers came in the midst of a very good Alzolay start against the White Sox. Despite taking the loss, Alzolay went 6.2 innings, giving up six hits and two earned runs. However, Alzolay also struck out seven and did not allow a walk, but was out-dueled by Carlos Rodon and the White Sox bullpen.

That aside, Tuesday's anticipation is for Justin Steele. Here's what to watch for in the rookie's first career start.

How many K's?

In Justin Steele's five starts at Triple-A Iowa, the flamethrower struck out 27 batters. On the other hand, he only walked nine batters. Steele thrived once he became a starter in Iowa. The 26-year-old struggled a bit out of the bullpen in four appearances before his first start.

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Justin Steele will look to bring the heat at Wrigley Field on Tuesday in his first MLB start.Photo: Stacy Revere/Getty Images

With that being said, Steele struck out five, five, four, five, and eight batters in each of his five starts, respectively. Then again, he did not pitch five innings until his fourth start, indicating the number should rise with more work. As mentioned, he struck out eight in his final start over five innings. There is a very good possibility we see Steele pitch four innings (would have been five in a nine-inning game) and possibly strike out six or seven.

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Nonetheless, expect Steele to fan some Brewers hitters today.

Keeping the Walks Down?

When looking at Steele's complete body of work in Iowa, his 29-to-13 K-to-BB ratio is still good, but as a starter it's incredible. As mentioned, he had a 27-to-9 ratio as a starter, which is even better. Steele really seemed to struggle with his command out of the pen. However, Steele appears born to be a starter, as he improved his walk numbers over the course of his five starts. The real question is, will his numbers translate to the MLB.

Well, numbers say that yeah, that should translate. Steele has appeared in 11 games with the Cubs in 2021, sporting a 2-0 record, 2.03 ERA, and 21 strikeouts to only seven walks in 13.1 innings. Throw in a hold and Steele's first stay in the big leagues was nothing short of impressive. He wasn't walking a lot of people the first time around, most notably locking down dirty innings out of the Cubs' pen.

A little injection of that energy into your morning coffee may provide more energy than you ever needed on a Tuesday. Steele is going to bring the fire, but most importantly he's going to limit base runners getting on via the free pass.

Bring the Heat

Ironically on what will be a literal hot day at Wrigley Field, Steele is bringing some filthy heat with him to the north side as well. In one of Steele's latest starts at Triple-A Iowa before his promotion, Steele touched 97.8 mph with his fastball. That mark is an all-time best for the young left-hander. If Steele brings that kind of heat, watch out Milwaukee batters.

Steele's endurance will really be tested on a 90-degree day on the north side. But, a shortened game will certainly help the 26-year-old. He shouldn't be asked to pitch more than four innings unless he's really on a roll. That said, he can spend a little more energy to bring some electric heat in his first career start. Expect plenty of velocity from Steele.

Passion, Energy, Intensity

Remember that first clip? Steele was all kinds of fired up after working the Cubs out of a jam in Cleveland. A strong Cubs crowd may bring that intensity back out again as Steele looks to shut down the Milwaukee Brewers lineup. It will be truly exciting to see the young left-hander pitch in what could be the first glimpse into the future for the Cubs' rotation. Another dose of this energy should give Cubs fans a well needed boost after the infamous trade deadline.

Need another boost? If you're itching for more Steele content, which we know you are, then check this out:

Get your popcorn ready Cubs fans and find your favorite chair in time to see Justin Steele and the Cubs take on the Brewers at 1:20 p.m. CDT on Tuesday. Tomorrow could be the first of many starts that Justin Steele makes for the Chicago Cubs in 2021 and beyond.