As expected, the Cubs activated Justin Steele from the 15-day injured list, as the left-hander is scheduled to start today’s game against the Orioles. Steele will take the place of Patrick Wisdom, as Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link) reports that Wisdom is being placed on the 10-day IL due to a right wrist sprain.
Wisdom was replaced by pinch-hitter Ian Happ in the sixth inning of yesterday’s 10-3 Cubs win over Baltimore, a move that seemed like in-game strategy at the time but could have been related to Wisdom’s wrist problem. The 31-year-old infielder also has only two hits in his last 36 plate appearances, so it is possible this wrist sprain might have occurred a while ago, and Wisdom was trying to play through the discomfort.
The recent slump has dropped Wisdom’s slash line to .196/.285/.467 for the season, with 14 homers over 208 plate appearances. While that production still translates to a slightly above-average 102 wRC+, it continues Wisdom’s trend of being a power-centric bat who offers little beyond the long ball. Wisdom has hit .213/.298/.465 with 67 homers over 1117 PA with Chicago since the start of the 2021 season.
Wisdom has played mostly third base this season, with a handful of appearances as first base and in both corner outfield spots. Nick Madrigal has been seeing regular work at third base since being recalled from Triple-A a little over a week ago, and the Cubs might prefer to see what the 26-year-old Madrigal can do with more frequent playing time, which might make it tough for Wisdom to work his way back into the lineup once he returns from the IL.
Steele returns after missing only slightly more than the minimum 15 days, which is a great outcome given the ominous nature of forearm strains. However, Steele’s strain didn’t involve any structural damage, so the southpaw was able to make a quick recovery. Steele has been excellent in 2023, posting a 2.65 ERA over 68 innings while relying on outstanding control and one of the league’s best soft-contact rates.