Where Chicago Cubs Justin Steele stands among starting pitchers

The Cubsl left-hander has put himself in All-Star consideration with a dominant a season.

Cleveland Guardians v Chicago Cubs
Cleveland Guardians v Chicago Cubs / Nuccio DiNuzzo/GettyImages

Justin Steele turned in another exceptional performance Friday afternoon against the Guardians at Wrigley Field, going 6.1 shutout innings with only three hits surrendered, one walk and six strikeouts. The 27-year-old lefty lowered his season ERA to a baseball best 2.43 among qualified starters. He also sports the lowest WHIP (1.03) and HR/9 (0.3) among qualified starters in the National League.

Steele has been awesome to watch, and is quietly among baseball's best starters. Going beyond just ERA and WHIP there are other areas in which he ranks among the best. His FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) of 2.80 is fourth-best in baseball, as is his 3.15 xERA (expected ERA). He is overall the sixth-highest fWAR (2.6) in baseball among qualified starters.

Looking further into some of the Statcast numbers provided on baseballsavant, there are even more encouraging numbers.

He is above 80 percentile in Avg Exit Velocity (96), HardHit% (90), Barrel% (87), xSlug (84), BB% (88), Chase Rate (83), Fastball Spin (81) and xERA/xwOBA (87). These are some pretty notable numbers, especially his effectiveness in not allowing hard hit balls and command. Which is worth pointing out Steele is 11th best in BB/9 (2.0). This was something he had to work at early in his career, the first half of 2022 he posted a 4.04 BB/9.

Steele has sacrificed a bit of the strikeout numbers for more effective command. From 2021-2022 he sported a 9.5 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9, now he sports an 8.0 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9. One of the things he did was alter his fastball a bit to give it more of a cutting action. FanGraphs registers his fastballs as cutters now, while before they were registered as four-seamers. With that change, his fastball value (wFB) jumped from -6.9 last year to 10.7 now. It was a very smart move by Steele considering he is not going to blow his fastball by a hitter as he sits around 91-92 MPH.

Steele deserves the credit that is due. He has had a great run since the second half of last season and hopefully he can continue that.