Cubs: Justin Steele simply sensational in season debut

Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports /

Man, if this hard-nosed, patient approach is what we’re going to get used to with this new-look Cubs team, count me in. As impressive as it was to watch on Saturday, it’s only fitting we give Justin Steele some credit for what he did in the victory.

Slotted in between Opening Day starter Kyle Hendricks and marquee offseason acquisition Marcus Stroman to start the year, the young left-hander looked right at home in his first start of the year, tossing five shutout innings, striking out five and walking just one while allowing just four hits.

By the fourth inning, he started to leave the offspeed stuff up in the zone, but quickly adjusted – getting out of a jam and going on to toss one more frame before giving way to Keegan Thompson and the Cubs bullpen.

Steele is a former fifth-round pick of the Cubs and he figures to play an important role on the pitching staff, especially early on with offseason signing Wade Miley sidelined with an injury. Given Chicago’s lack of homegrown starting pitching in, well, decades, a start like the one we all bore witness to on Saturday is a very welcome sight.

Last season, the 26-year-old lefty split time between rotation and bullpen during his time at the big league level and he was notably stronger out of the bullpen. But throughout his minor league career, he was used overwhelmingly as a starter and the hope is that will continue to be the case moving forward.

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Slotting Steele between Hendricks and Stroman, two pitch-to-contact right-handers, could give him a chance to really change up the look opponents get in a series. Hopefully Saturday’s stellar performance was a sign of things to come – because it was a treat to watch from start to finish.