Cubs

Justin Steele getting shot at rotation for Cubs

Cubs
USA TODAY

The Cubs’ 11-game losing streak didn’t just drop them from first place in the NL Central. 

It turned their entire season on its head, certainly their status entering the trade deadline. 

And with that, at least one thing has become increasingly clear.

It’s time for the Cubs to see what they have with their younger players for next season and beyond.

“When you're in this moment, and your playoff odds get into single digits at this time of the year,” team president Jed Hoyer said, “you have to keep an eye on the future and think about what moves you can potentially make that could help build the next great Cubs team.”

One big piece could be the big arm of Justin Steele.

The Cubs activated Steele off the 10-day injured list Thursday and optioned him to Triple-A, where they'll stretch him out for some starts 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,” Hoyer added.

Steele will start Sunday for Iowa, after tossing 2 2/3 innings for them Wednesday.

Steele debuted with the Cubs in April as a reliever, where he impressed, turning in a 2.03 ERA in 11 appearances before straining his hamstring in May. He came up through their system as a starter.

“We saw what he can do when he was up here this year and healthy,” Hoyer said. “He's got great stuff, left-handed with a great fastball and multiple other weapons.

 

“Sometimes when a pitcher is young like that, I think closing the door on starting is a mistake. Plenty of guys have started out in the bullpen and ended up starting.”

Developing homegrown pitching has been an Achilles heel under the Epstein-Hoyer Cubs regime, but they believe they finally have some potential contributors coming in guys like Steele, Keegan Thompson and Cory Abbott.

Adbert Alzolay has made 15 starts in his first season in the rotation with mixed results. 

The Cubs won't have any trouble creating openings in their rotation whenever they might want to use one of the rookies.

Zach Davies is a candidate to be traded before the July 30 deadline. Trevor Williams has struggled at times and is just now back from the IL.

Even though Hoyer said he hasn't given up on Jake Arrieta, the former Cy Young Award winner has been their worst starter this year and won't have much leash the rest of the way.

“Given what he's done for us in his career, given the highlights he's had and the talent he has, I think you want to exhaust everything,” Hoyer said. “With a few tweaks, he might well get back to being a really good starting pitcher again.”

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