Justin Steele *, LHP, CHC

With word that the Cubs will be bring up Justin Steele to be part of a six-man rotation, let’s see who the Cubs have in this left-hander.

Video courtesy of FanGraphs
  • Born: July 11, 1995
  • B/T: L/L
  • 6’2″, 205-lbs
  • Drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 2014 MLB June Amateur Draft from George County HS (Lucedale, MS)

The Numbers

His raw numbers are listed above courtesy of baseball-reference.com. Let’s aggregate by year then focus on the important numbers for minor leaguers:

The first thing that stands out are the IP numbers. He’s had injuries that have cut into his playing time, including Tommy John surgery in August of 2017.

The second thing we see is his control has been good and not-so-good, even while his strikeout rate is usually solid or better. The vagaries of his WHIP are partially a result of those walks.

Overall, we see a mid-20s pitcher who has gotten decent results as he climbed the minor league levels, but has not dominated batters.

Steele has a three-pitch mix that keeps his hopes of being a #5 starter alive. Primarily a fastball/slider pitcher with a curve. A lefty throwing mid-90s heat can survive just fine, so his success – or lack thereof – will come down to the quality of his secondary offerings.

A fairly balanced spray chart. Nothing really stands out here.

He’s done well against both righties and lefties, but the walks have come against RHB.

If we extended the 2021 line, it would be where the May 2019 line was, about 15%. He’s not a dominator, just a decent, back-of-the-rotation pitcher.

The Scouts

Warnings

The scouts ignore him now, as he no longer has the high upside he once had before the injuries.

He doesn’t get a lot of strikeouts, and the walk rate can be damaging.

Conclusion

In MLB, teams need innings, and with all the injuries to pitchers, they constantly need more innings from somebody. With the Cubs looking to the future, they might as well see what someone like Justin Steele can give them. He doesn’t have the stuff to be a top-of-the-rotation arm, but he has the skills to be a #5 SP.

If he stays healthy, and he keeps the walks in check, he can find success in a rotation. Just keep your expectation lowered.

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