Chicago Cubs: Justin Steele has earned another shot at the rotation

(Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /

With the 2021 season almost at a merciful end, the Chicago Cubs now need to begin thinking about the improvements they can make going into next season. Jed Hoyer stated the team planned to be active spenders in the upcoming free agency period, which is enough to give us at least a little cautious optimism.

One area that will almost certainly be addressed in the offseason is the rotation, as the Cubs currently lack a true number one starter and are going to have plenty of rotation spots to fill before next season.  While spending to fix the rotation is a must, the Cubs would be well-served giving one of their 2022 rotation spots to Justin Steele.

Steele has been in the rotation for a good chunk of the year and it’s been a mixed bag as far as results go. Steele was one of a few homegrown pitchers the Cubs were giving a run in the organization, and they’ve all gone through highs and lows in the rotation, and that’s perhaps most abundantly clear in Steele.

Chicago Cubs: Justin Steele has shown promise despite his early struggles

As Steele was still getting stretched out, it was a rough go of things early in his time in the rotation. He was a nasty reliever with a high strikeout rate, but he’s sacrificed strikeouts for contact as an attempt to get deeper into outings. As a result, teams have been able to hit Steele hard, hitting 10 home runs in their first 36 1/3 innings against the southpaw.

However, as Steele has gotten more accustomed to life as a starter, he’s shown signs of being able to keep the ball in the yard. In his first four starts of September, Steele improved and gave up just three long balls in 19 innings pitched. He got roughed up by the Cardinals while they were in the midst of their 17-game win streak which definitely skews his numbers, but Steele was pretty clearly showing signs of improvement.

His final start of the season was his best yet, going seven innings, striking out seven and giving up no runs. This performance was a testament to the incremental improvements he had been making as he got more and more comfortable in the rotation, and hopefully is a sign of things to come.

Next. Cubs' rotation merry-go-round will continue this offseason. dark

Though Steele was far from perfect down the stretch in the rotation, there are reasons for optimism for his future as a starter. He looked as though he was getting more and more comfortable the more he pitched, and it’s worth a shot for the Cubs to see if their homegrown lefty could pan out in the rotation. Steele shouldn’t be a reason Chicago doesn’t spend in an attempt to fix the rotation, but he should get a look in 2022.