Justin Steele injury update confirms return next week to Chicago Cubs' rotation

Cubs ace Justin Steele is slated to start against the Padres on Monday
Chicago Cubs v Atlanta Braves
Chicago Cubs v Atlanta Braves / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

The Chicago Cubs are hanging at the top of the National League Central right now despite a frustrating series split against the New York Mets, but the team should get a nice momentum boost when ace Justin Steele gets back into action next week.

According to Marquee Sports Network's Taylor McGregor, Steele will start in the first game of the series against the San Diego Padres on Monday, as long as his bullpen session on Saturday goes smoothly.

Justin Steele's return for the Cubs is coming at a great time.

Steele has been sidelined since the first game of the 2024 season, where he tweaked his hamstring while fielding a groundball against the Texas Rangers. Luckily, the scary play ended up being more benign than it looked, and Steele only missed about a month of action. Given the current state of MLB, where pitchers are going down with season-ending injuries left and right, I feel like the Cubs lucked out with Steele's injury.

Aside from Steele, the Cubs rotation has taken some major blows in the early going this year, with Jameson Taillon, Kyle Hendricks, and Jordan Wicks also seeing time on the injured list. But the response from the team and its pitching depth has been remarkable, with young pitchers like Javier Assad, Ben Brown, and Hayden Wesneski rising to the occasion in impressive fashion.

Coming off a year where he competed for a Cy Young award, the expectations are high for Steele with his reputation as the ace of the Cubs' pitching staff on the line. But if he can just keep his ERA low and give the team much-needed innings to take some pressure off the taxed bullpen, Steele should keep everyone happy and check manager Craig Counsell's boxes. The Cubs need Steele and his return is coming at a time when the team is about to face a lot of steep competition in May, with plenty of division rival games and two series against the formidable Atlanta Braves.