Chicago Cubs fans can breathe after hearing this Justin Steele injury update

After a fifth-place finish in NL Cy Young voting last season, Chicago needs more of the same from the left-hander in 2024.

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Given the Chicago Cubs didn't pull off a blockbuster for Corbin Burnes or Dylan Cease, nor did they sign one of the top free-agent starting pitchers, Justin Steele is going to need to replicate his breakout 2023 performance if the team is going to have any chance of winning a division title.

So when Steele left his final Cactus League start after taking a line drive off the left leg, Cubs fans saw the 2024 season go up in flames before it even began. Thankfully, the lefty isn't too concerned with the injury and expects to start Opening Night on Thursday in Texas as planned.

“... once we got back in the dugout and got in the tunnel and started moving around, got some blood flowing to it, it started coming back," Steele told afterward. "I’d just say it’s sore right now, a little bruised up, but nothing to worry about, really.”

Cubs announce starting rotation order behind Justin Steele

So with Steele seemingly good to go, here's how the Cubs are going to line up the rotation for the first five games of the year. Veteran Kyle Hendricks follows Steele and Jordan Wicks closes out the series in Arlington, with first-year Cubs manager Craig Counsell going lefty-righty-lefty right out of the gate.

He continues the trend when the Cubs come home to kick off the home slate on Apr. 1 against Colorado, with newcomer Shota Imanaga poised to make his MLB debut against the Rockies in the home opener. Right-hander Javier Assad who, for the time being, is holding down the fifth spot in the rotation in place of the injured Jameson Taillon, gets the ball the next day.

Jed Hoyer and the Chicago front office are betting heavily on how Imanaga's stuff with translate against MLB hitters and perhaps even heavier on the team's up-and-coming pitching prospects. Wicks and Assad will play key roles early, but it seems likely we'll see both Cade Horton and Ben Brown before the summer is up.

It all starts with Steele on Thursday night as the Cubs bear witness to the reigning World Series champions raising their first banner and receiving their championship rings. Hopefully, the team can play spoiler and get started on a championship journey of their own.