3 candidates to join Chicago Cubs starting rotation after Justin Steele injury

After Justin Steele's hamstring injury on Opening Day, the Cubs will have to call on their starting pitching depth to fill the void in their rotation

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Opening Day did not go well for the Chicago Cubs this year. The team lost the game in extra innings, Craig Counsell had to use almost every reliever in the bullpen and Adbert Alzolay blew his first save opportunity of the year. Oh and Justin Steele got hurt while fielding a groundball in the fifth inning.

This hamstring injury will send the Cubs' ace to the injured list in heartbreaking fashion after just 4.2 innings of work in the first game of the year. It's a major blow that stings a lot, but the team is going to have to pick up the pieces and move on for however long Steele is sidelined. That means one of these three pitchers will slot into the starting rotation and try to pick up the slack.

1. Hayden Wesneski

Wesneski was sent down to Triple-A earlier this week with the expectation that he'd be back at some point to either slide into the bullpen as a long reliever or make starts in the rotation if someone went down. I don't think anyone was expecting Steele to go down, let alone this early, but here we are and Wesneski is probably the best option to take on the role.

A year ago, the right-hander was in the Cubs' rotation after winning the job in Spring Training. He didn't keep it long and eventually moved to the bullpen, but the stuff is there. The 26-year-old features one of the best sliders in baseball and we saw a flash of greatness after Wesneski was acquired by Chicago in 2022 (2.18 ERA). The guy is still young and capable of turning in quality innings despite a bad season in 2023.

At the very least, Wesneski will likely be called up from Triple-A to fill in as a long-reliever because the next guy on this list is also a viable candidate.

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