Cubs: Justin Steele showing that 2022 breakout was start of something special
By Jake Misener
The bats may have stolen the show during Friday's series-opening win against the Dodgers, but Cubs left-hander Justin Steele was equally impressive, rattling off his third straight quality start to open the 2023 campaign.
Dating back to last July's All-Star Game in Los Angeles, Steele leads all qualified starters in ERA - topping the likes of Gerrit Cole, Shohei Ohtani and Corbin Burnes. After Friday's start: seven innings of two-run ball, the southpaw carries a 1.42 ERA on the year, a mark tied for fourth-best in the Senior Circuit.
Cubs getting ace-like starts from Marcus Stroman, Justin Steele early
In the second half of 2022, Steele put up a 0.98 ERA in seven starts before being shut down for the year. A big question heading into this year was whether or not he'd be able to build off that performance - and he's answered that question in a resounding way early on.
"“Steely looked phenomenal, really pounded the zone. Thought he was dominant. Couple home runs, obviously, but when you fill up a zone like that against a good lineup, you’re going to give up some every once in a while.” "- David Ross, via Sun-Times
When Steele got Mookie Betts swinging on a slide piece that Yan Gomes caught behind the former MVP in the first inning, it was clear early on the Cubs lefty had things working for him. He wound up striking out eight and walking just one, allowing a trio of hits (two of which left the yard) before handing things over to the bullpen.
Steele has teamed up with Marcus Stroman early to give Chicago a formidable 1-2 punch. Stroman, who boasts a 1.00 ERA in his first three starts of the year, has been equally impressive, setting the tone for the rest of the rotation every five days.
Steele's next start should come next week against in Oakland; and then, he'll get another crack at these Dodgers at Wrigley later in the month. If Friday's performance was any indicator, that feels like a matchup he'll have circled on his calendar in the Cubs clubhouse.