Cubs planning to give Steele a chance to start

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Cubs pitcher Justin Steele throws during ghe sixth inning of the team's baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds in Cincinnati on Friday, April 30, 2021.

    Chicago Cubs pitcher Justin Steele throws during ghe sixth inning of the team's baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds in Cincinnati on Friday, April 30, 2021.

 
 
Updated 7/9/2021 5:17 PM

Iowa Cubs manager Marty Pevey got a chance to visit the Cubs' alternate site in South Bend last year and was impressed with what he saw from left-handed pitcher Justin Steele.

"I saw him as a three, four guy on a big-league rotation on a championship club," Pevey told the Des Moines Register. "He's got that ability."

 

The Cubs plan to find out. Steele went to Iowa for a rehab assignment after recovering from a hamstring strain. Now they also want him to stretch out and return to a starting role.

Steele, a fifth-round draft pick in 2014, was a starting pitcher throughout his minor-league run. He was a successful reliever in the majors earlier this season, posting a 2.03 ERA with the Cubs.

"We're going to try to put him in a role where he can face the lineup a couple times, and there's no reason he can't do it," Cubs president Jed Hoyer said. "We saw what he can do when he was up here this year and healthy. He's got great stuff, left-handed with a great fastball and multiple other weapons."

This move makes sense for a number of reasons. The Cubs have no left-handers in their rotation this year, a couple of veteran starters, Jake Arrieta and Trevor Williams, have struggled; and they might be looking to limit Adbert Alzolay's innings, since this is his first full season in the majors.

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Steele said he's working to bring back his changeup, since he needs more pitches as a starter, but didn't really use it in a relief role. He also told the Des Moines Register he doesn't care what his role is, he just wants to pitch in the major leagues.

The plan is for Steele to start Sunday's game against St. Paul. If all goes well, it seems likely he will get a chance to start in the majors later this year.

"The starter thing, I would say, never went away," Steele said. "I feel good. A little sore -- that was the most pitches I've thrown in two or so years (47 on Thursday), but I feel good. It's good to feel that soreness again."

• Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls

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