MLB released their latest starting pitcher power rankings on Thursday, and Chicago Cubs southpaw Justin Steele finally made an appearance at fourth on the list.
Steele recently set a career-high for innings pitched (121) after spinning a respectable 5.1 innings against the intimidating Atlanta Braves lineup. With a 2.68 ERA (2nd in MLB) on the year, Steele has set himself up for the NL Cy Young award conversation and he should collect some votes if he keeps this success going. Although the win stat for pitchers is very flawed, it is worth noting that Steele is tied for the most wins in MLB with 13 and the Cubs have won 14 of the 21 games the Mississippi native has started.
Steele has been pitching like an ace for Chicago this year and he might get a chance to collect some postseason experience if the team can continue to inch their way into the playoff picture. If that happens, Steele will be set up to succeed even more and hopefully use that to prepare for future playoff games when the team is ready to make a World Series run.
Hopefully, Steele's teammates can give him some support in the rotation, as he and Jameson Taillon have been the only trustworthy arms recently. Kyle Hendricks has been shaky, Drew Smyly is quickly becoming a serious problem and Marcus Stroman's return from the IL is currently unknown. The Cubs would be smart to go out and supplement the team with starting pitching in the offseason. There are plenty of decent arms that will be available including Aaron Nola, Julio Urias, and Blake Snell.
Even if the Cubs don't go far this year, hopefully, we can look back on Steele's 2023 season and be comfortable in the fact that he will be in the Cubs; starting rotation for a long time as he won't become an unrestricted free agent until 2028.