Cubs News: Justin Steele injury is a monumental loss for the bullpen
By Jake Misener
Justin Steele has been one of many pleasant surprises in the Cubs bullpen so far this season. Entering the year outside of the organization’s Top 30 prospects, the young left-hander has quickly become a go-to guy for second-year manager David Ross.
Steele has allowed just three earned runs in 11 appearances out of the Chicago bullpen, working to a 2.03 ERA and 14.2 K/9 across 13 1/3 innings of work. Despite never pitching above Double-A prior to this year, the former fifth-rounder has found a great deal of success at the big league level.
But that success is on hold now, as Steele hit the 10-day IL with a moderate hamstring strain after injuring himself running the bases Thursday against Washington.
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"“Justin’s [strain] is probably moderate, [but it’s] still kind of under diagnosis,” Ross told MLB.com. “A couple of days always gives us a little more information. … But yeah, Justin has a moderate strain. Little more severe than a mild [strain] is what the trainers are telling me.”"
Ross went on to say we’ll know more about the severity of the injury with time, but regardless, the loss leaves a major hole in the surprisingly potent Cubs bullpen. Chicago called up lefty Brad Wieck to take Steele’s roster spot – but he really hasn’t established himself at the big league level to this point.
Cubs know Brad Wieck is no Justin Steele – but will have to make do.
Wieck, who has made a trio of scoreless appearances for the Cubs this season, came to the North Side in the 2019 deadline deal that sent Carl Edwards Jr. to San Diego. Since joining the team, the 29-year-old southpaw has made just 18 appearances, working to a 3.86 ERA and 0.786 WHIP.
Those numbers certainly paint a nice picture. The main issue with Wieck has been injuries, which have kept him from establishing himself in the bullpen picture for the Cubs. Last year, he made just one appearance for the team during the 60-game season.
"“We still have to go out and compete hard and keep the pedal down when we’re out there,” Ross said. “Injuries do happen and we’re going to try to adjust, and I think it just gives — like most teams — gives other guys opportunities to make a name for themselves and step up and help our team win.”"
Steele’s Baseball Savant page is the stuff of dreams. He looks like he could be a key piece of the team not only in 2021 but for years to come. For now, it’s about getting him back to 100 percent and back on the mound, where he’s proven he’s more than ready to take on big league hitters.