Cubs News: Dansby Swanson compares Justin Steele to this Braves All-Star
Last year, Justin Steele took big steps forward, establishing himself as a front-of-the-rotation presence for the Chicago Cubs. A 0.98 second-half ERA put him in a position to carry some big-time momentum heading into 2023 and what he's capable of has not gone unnoticed by new teammate Dansby Swanson.
Cubs will need a dominant Justin Steele to become a contender
Swanson, who signed a seven-year, $177 million deal with the Cubs this winter sees a lot of last season's NL Cy Young runner-up, Max Fried, in what he's seen from Steele so far.
"He’s obviously got a lot of potential. I know people are going to just completely run with this the wrong way when I say it, but he’s got a similar profile to Fried. Their action on their ball moves in a similar way, especially the fastball. It’s just really unique. I think that gives him a big advantage. He’s obviously got some pitchability. He knows what he’s doing. "- Dansby Swanson, via MLB.com
I know, I know. Even talking about this is probably 'completely running with this the wrong way,' but it's been a long, long time since a homegrown Cubs pitcher was drawing comps to one of the best arms in the game. Steele's got a long way to go to have that caliber of resume, but you've got to start somewhere, right?
The left-hander is working to add a change-up to his arsenal this season and he was sharp in his Cactus League debut - although we didn't get a look at the new offering. Still, he was remarkably efficient, needing just 18 pitches to get through a pair of scoreless innings over the weekend. From there, the bullpen took over as the Cubs notched their first-ever spring training no-hitter.
Last year, Steele was a solid, at times, dominant, presence on the mound. He avoided a lot of hard contact and really settled in as the year progressed. No one is asking him to go out and put up Fried-like numbers - but if he can continue to progress and emerge as a long-term, high-quality arm, it'll go a long way toward helping the Cubs return to contention.