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Cubs’ Steele’s streak of promise continues in gusty outing originally appeared on nbc sports chicago
The last thing a blow puppies The starting rotation and beleaguered pitching staff needed Monday against the Padres was a short outing for Justin Steele.
And, for a moment there, it seemed like that scenario was coming into play.
On his ninth pitch of the game, Steele responded with the index finger of his left hand that required the attention of manager David Ross and the team’s coaching staff.
“I don’t know what I was thinking,” Steele said of trying to catch the ball with his bare hands.
The ball left a cut on Steele’s finger, on the same hand where he was already dealing with a pre-existing blister on his middle finger heading into the start.
The training staff cut off the blister, which Steele said didn’t bother him.
He stayed in the game and needed only two pitches to retire Padres sluggers Manny Machado and Luke Voit to end the first inning, but the Cubs raised the bullpen in case Steele couldn’t continue.
A bullpen that pitched 20 innings in a three-game weekend sweep of the Yankees, with Wade Miley leaving Friday’s game due to injury after three innings and Keegan Thompson only got two outs on Sunday.
Steele went down to the batting cage after the first and threw a few balls into the net to test the cut, deeming the pain manageable enough to continue pitching.
Good stuff, too. He delivered one of his best outings of the season, tying a career high by pitching seven innings while limiting San Diego to one run on six hits with no walks. The Padres rallied out of the Cubs’ bullpen to win 4-1.
Steele said the finger is swollen, but he doesn’t expect it to be a problem in the future.
“I’m sure the training staff will take a look at it,” he said. “But as far as I’m concerned, I’m fine.”
Steele said that regardless of the state of the rotation, he felt like he had his best stuff going for the game and wanted to go out there and compete.
However, the fact that he could stay in the game and perform the way he did was exactly what the Cubs needed.
“We were getting ready to go to the corral in the second inning,” Ross said. “That’s what strikes me, and we would have fallen short. We would have been in a difficult situation.
“[Steele] he did a phenomenal job of taking the ball and going out there and finding out.”
Miley returned from IL on Friday only to land there with the same shoulder problem she was previously dealing with. Marcus Stroman entered the injury ward hours earlier with shoulder inflammation.
Tuesday’s likely starter Kyle Hendricks last pitched June 1 after receiving a prescribed rest to manage shoulder fatigue. Drew Smyly is on the disabled list with an oblique injury.
In a rebuilding season for the Cubs, whether Steele and Thompson become viable major league starters are among the biggest storylines.
In his last seven starts (since early May), Steele has a 3.75 ERA in 36 innings.
If you put out a seven-run clunker in two innings against the Reds, those numbers are a 2.12 ERA over 34 innings.
Steele came face to face with former Cubs ace Yu Darvish on Mondayalso becoming the first Cubs pitcher to pitch seven-plus innings and allow one earned run or fewer in consecutive starts since Darvish (Aug. 5–13, 2020).
“We may have to poke him in the toe a couple of times before he starts,” Ross joked. “That was impressive”.
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