5 Cubs surprises - #5: Justin Steele established himself as an ace
This one hurts to write about right now because up until recently, Justin Steele looked like he might squeak out the National League Cy Young award. However, the southpaw's last two starts were ugly and he surrendered six earned runs in each contest. While Steele's numbers inflated over the past two weeks, frontrunner Blake Snell kept his foot on the gas and looks poised to take home the coveted award.
Although a Cy Young Award isn't in the cards this year, Steele has still been an unbelievably valuable arm for the Cubs and they would likely not be on the cusp of the playoffs without him. The 28-year-old owns a 3.00 ERA in 168 innings with a career-high 170 strikeouts and 16 wins. Those are incredible numbers and hopefully they give Steele the confidence to continue this dominance into the future.
Steele will be at the front of the Cubs' rotation for the foreseeable future since he's under team control through 2027. I find comfort in the fact that he took a massive step forward this year and he seems ready to build on that success to help the team make the playoffs again.