Cubs fans received some positive news regarding left-hander Justin Steele yesterday. The 27-year-old hurler was pulled from his start on Wednesday after just three innings of work due to forearm tightess and underwent an MRI on Thursday to determine the severity of the issue. As noted by MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian on Twitter, Steele described the result of the MRI as “good news” and said that the plan is for him to play catch today before determining the path forward. With that being said, WSCR-AM’s Bruce Levine notes that a source considers Steele “likely” to miss his next start, which he would otherwise be on schedule take Tuesday against the Angels.
After securing a spot in the starting rotation to open the 2022 campaign, Steele ended last season looking like an above-average, mid-rotation or better starter over 24 starts, posting a 3.18 ERA, 3.20 FIP, 24.6% strikeout rate, 9.8% walk rate, and 51.2% groundball rate in 119 innings of work. Only budding Rays ace Shane McClanahan managed to post a higher strikeout rate while maintaining a groundball rate over 50% last year. What’s more, Steele has managed to build on his strong first season as a regular starter for the this season, with a 2.65 ERA that’s only bested by rotation-mate Marcus Stroman and Braves youngster Bryce Elder in the National League.
The news that his forearm strain isn’t anything serious and he’s unlikely to miss significant time is surely a relief for a Cubs team that has relied on the young lefty to carry their pitching staff alongside Stroman, with the duo representing 18 of the club’s 25 quality starts in 2023. With that said, it seems likely that right-hander Hayden Wesneski will fill in for Steele in the event the injured left-hander does miss a start. Wesneski struggled to a 4.81 ERA and 5.65 FIP this season after earning the fifth spot in the club’s rotation with a dominant performance in spring training, leaving the Cubs to remove him from the rotation when Kyle Hendricks returned to the mound from injury.
More from around the NL Central:
- According to MLB.com, Brewers shortstop Willy Adames has resumed baseball activities for the first time since he was struck by a foul ball in last week’s game against the Giants, landing him on the 7-day concussion IL. Adames is currently working out with the the club’s High-A affiliate rather than joining the club on their flight to Cincinnati in order to avoid the wear-and-tear of air travel, according to manager Craig Counsell. The club plans to decide whether or not Adames, who has struggled to a 84 wRC+ in 51 games this season, needs a minor league rehab assignment before he can return to big league action later this weekend. In the meantime, they figure to continue going with a combination of Brice Turang, Owen Miller, and Andruw Monasterio up the middle.
- Sticking with the Brewers, MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy notes that left-hander Wade Miley is making good progress on his rehab from a posterior serratus strain. While he was initially expected to be shelved for six to eight weeks, McCalvy reports that if Miley is able to avoid any setbacks he’s currently set to return from the IL after just four weeks after throwing a bullpen session on Thursday. Miley posted eight solid starts for the Brewers prior to his injury as the veteran lefty threw 41 2/3 innings of 3.67 ERA baseball.
- Reds first baseman and future Hall of Famer Joey Votto is set to begin a rehab assignment with the club’s Triple-A affiliate in Louisville today, per MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon. Votto has been on the shelf since he underwent surgery on his rotator cuff back in August, and posted a wRC+ of just 92 in 91 games prior to the surgery. Still, he figures to share first base and DH duties with Spencer Steer upon his return to big league action.
- Right-hander Vince Velasquez was activated from the injured list and returned to the Pirates’ rotation just last week, but immediately felt discomfort in his right elbow and returned to the injured list. According to Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, his current IL-stay will not be a short one, as the veteran is expected to be transferred to the 60-day IL in the near future. Velasquez had pitched well for the Pirates across eight starts this season prior to his injury, with a 3.86 ERA in 37 1/3 innings. Velasquez’s return to the IL leaves the club with a rotation of Mitch Keller, Roansy Contreras, Johan Oviedo, Rich Hill, and Luis Ortiz.