Justin Steele’s Strong Performance

Justin Steele
(Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

Justin Steele seems to have figured things out in his strong start for the Chicago Cubs. The starting pitcher has a perfect record of 6–0 with a 1.82 ERA in 49 1/3 innings. Going back to last season, he is cumulatively 7–1 in 15 outings with an overall ERA of 1.77. The 27-year old is becoming the type of starter this organization has been trying to develop the past few years.

Home Grown Pitching

The Cubs have struggled for years to develop pitching. The organization has drafted over 25 pitchers in the top five rounds over the past eight drafts, so it’s a welcoming site to have Steele finally make it to the big leagues and have some success. You have to go back as far as Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, and even Carlos Zambrano to find the Cubs top developed pitchers who had success with the big-league club.

Long Time in MiLB

Justin Steele was drafted in 2014 and made his debut with the Arizona League Cubs, compiling a 2.89 ERA. In 2015, he finished at 3–1 with a 2.66 ERA in ten starts. He spent the 2016 season with the South Bend Cubs, where he had a 5–7 record. An August injury which required Tommy John surgery cut short his 2017 season. That injury along with a few others limited Steele to just 348 innings in his first seven years in professional baseball. However, he did return from the injury in 2018 showing new mechanics and form.

Improved Pitching Performance

Since arriving to the big-league club in 2021, Steele has done better job of commanding his fastball each season. It ranges from 91-95 mph with that groundout-inducing form. He also has made significant progress with his slider, and this season hitters have an abysmal .077 average against it. He also shows more confidence in his delivery to throw consistent strikes, and is keeping the ball in the strike zone. The southpaw has only given up two home runs, both coming in the same game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Manager’s Confidence

Rather than pull him, manager David Ross has allowed Steele to work out of jams and out of innings. When a manger has that kind of belief in a pitcher like Steele, it gives the pitcher confidence and allows him to settle in.

High Ceiling

Justin Steele certainly isn’t the most physical pitcher. His control and command are still a work in progress, but he has a high ceiling as a starter. He is an energetic left hander with a good three-pitch collection and a strong competitive streak.

He certainly has been among the most successful starting pitchers in baseball over the last ten months. If Steele can continue to maintain good ground ball rates, baffle hitters with his slider, and keep the ball in the ballpark the Cubs have themselves a very good starting pitcher.

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James Marshall

James Marshall

Jim Marshall has lived in Phoenix, AZ for 50 years. He is an avid baseball fan, but enjoys all of Arizona's local sports teams, including Diamondbacks, Suns, Cardinals and Coyotes. In addition to the four major sports, he closely follows the Phoenix Mercury, Arizona Rattlers and Arizona State Sun Devils. Jim's passion for baseball continues beyond the field as he is an avid collector of baseball memorabilia. His favorite athlete of all time is Baseball Hall of Fame member Harmon Killebrew. In addition to watching, reading and talking about sports, he takes time to travel and appreciate the great state of Arizona with his lovely wife, Patti.

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