Well, even when things begin to look better for the Chicago Cubs something seems to pop up to kill the good vibes. This time it’s an apparent injury to star pitcher Justin Steele.
The lefty started Wednesday’s series finale at Wrigley Field against the Tampa Bay Rays, looking to get back on track after he was hit around by the Cincinnati Reds last Friday. Steele was pitching well, retiring every batter he faced in three innings, but in the third inning Cubs manager David Ross and a trainer for the team checked on the starting pitcher. Nothing looked too obvious and the only visible sign of something being wrong was Steele shaking out his pitching arm after a delivery.
Steele got out of the inning after the trainer talked to him, while the Cubs called to the bullpen to get Hayden Wesneski warming up. Steele ended up throwing three perfect innings on 29 pitches, but whatever the issue was, the Cubs didn’t want to push it and Steele did not return for the fourth inning.
Wesneski, who was called back up from Triple-A earlier this week, came in relief of Steele to begin the fourth inning.
Along with Marcus Stroman, Steele has been anchoring the Cubs starting rotation so far this season. Despite his last start against the Reds, Steele has been pitching like an ace for most of the year, entering Wednesday’s game against the Rays with a 2.77 ERA through 11 starts.
To say the least, hopefully this isn’t a major injury for Steele, who again, was looking fantastic against the Rays before he was pulled after three innings. If he does have to miss time and is placed on the 15-day injured list, which is the minimum for pitchers, then you would imagine that Wesneski would step into Steele’s spot in the rotation. Although, Ross did say that they were going to use Wesneski out of the bullpen this time around, but circumstances and need might be changing if Steele is out.
Jed Hoyer was on Marquee Sports Network during Wednesday’s game and he gave an update on Steele.
You sure would hope that Steele knows it isn’t too serious because Ross and the team trainer went out there and then he was still allowed to finish the third inning. A forearm strain is definitely scary to see no matter what. We’ll keep you updated on Steele’s status.
Following Wednesday’s series finale against Tampa Bay, the Cubs will have Thursday off before going on the road to the West Coast. The Cubs will have a 10-game road trip beginning Friday, starting with four games against the San Diego Padres, then three games apiece against the Los Angeles Angels and San Francisco Giants.
The Cubs entered Wednesday at 24-30, but despite being six games below the .500 mark they are only four games back of first place in the National League Central Division, trailing the Pittsburgh Pirates and the first-place Milwaukee Brewers. Heading into play today, the Brewers at 28-26, are the only ones in the NL Central with a record above .500.