A glass half-full: Cubs' Justin Steele pitched like an ace against the Brewers Monday

Despite the gem from the left-hander, Chicago remains winless in games started by Steele in 2024.
Chicago Cubs v Milwaukee Brewers
Chicago Cubs v Milwaukee Brewers / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

Craig Counsell's highly anticipated return to Milwaukee didn't go as hoped, at least not for the Chicago Cubs, who lost for the eighth time in their last 10 games, falling 4 1/2 games back of the Brewers in the NL Central.

A late-inning defensive miscue from Nick Madrigal and a mammoth three-run home run from Willy Adames erased a gem of an outing from Justin Steele. The left-hander turned in his best start of the season, tossing seven scoreless frames and striking out eight on the afternoon.

“We have a good club in here, and we know it's going to turn around,” Steele said after the loss. “It’s going to take one inning or one game where we score 10 runs or something. We know what we have in there.”

Chicago Cubs have now lost 10 consecutive Justin Steele starts

Despite Steele matching Milwaukee rookie Robert Gasser pitch-for-pitch, Chicago remains winless in his six starts this season. The Cubs have now lost 10 consecutive Steele starts, with their last win coming on Sept. 4, 2023, when he struck out a dozen Giants hitters in eight scoreless innings at Wrigley.

It's taken Steele some time to settle in after missing more than a month after suffering a hamstring injury on Opening Night against the Rangers. He's allowed five or more runs in three of his six starts and Monday marked just the second time he completed six innings this year.

One can only hope this effort marks the beginning of the turnaround for Steele, who finished fifth in NL Cy Young voting last season. It's felt like Shota Imanaga has singlehandedly kept the Cubs afloat to this point and even with his Cy Young-caliber efforts, Chicago is now at .500 on the year with a 9-15 record in the month of May.

There's a lot of baseball left to play and the offense has to get things turned around. But if you're looking desperately for a glimmer of hope, Steele is as good a place to start as any right now.