Cubs need Justin Steele to limit these two Brewers hitters on Saturday
By Jake Misener
With an Opening Day victory to their credit, the Cubs are back in action against the Brewers at Wrigley Field Saturday behind left-hander Justin Steele. David Ross is looking for Steele to pick up where Marcus Stroman left off, tossing six scoreless innings on Thursday afternoon.
Steele had the Brewers' number last year - so much so, he's probably little disappointed about the introduction of the balanced schedule in 2023. He made a half-dozen starts against Milwaukee, working to a 2.03 ERA and 11.3 K/9 across 31 innings pitched.
Cubs: Justin Steele needs to control Christian Yelich, Willy Adames
Two guys, though, have proven to be tough outs for the Mississippi native in Willy Adames and Christian Yelich. The former carries a .308 mark in 13 career at-bats against Steele while Yelich, a former National League MVP, has a .385 average in the same number of ABs.
Coincidentally, Adames also brought a great deal of success historically into his matchup with Stroman on Opening Day, but the Cubs right-hander won that battle, with Adames going just 1-for-3 with a walk.
In his rookie campaign, Steele was relatively split-neutral, always a good indicator for a young starting pitcher, but left-handed batters' OPS against him was 60 points lower than right-handed. That gives you hope he'll be able to control Yelich, who turned in a 111 OPS+ last season for Milwaukee.
It was down the stretch last year where Steele settled in and established himself as a quality piece for Chicago - and the Cubs are counting on him to build off that late-season success here in 2023. He and another young pitcher, Hayden Wesneski, will have to give the team high-quality innings this year if things are to play out in the team's favor.