All eyes are on the players who could make up the next Cubs core. Enter Justin Steele.
The rookie southpaw has at least one more start to make in Triple-A before re-joining the big-league team as a starter. He’s scheduled to take the mound for the Iowa Cubs on Wednesday, Cubs manager David Ross said before the Cubs’ series opener at Colorado on Tuesday.
“We'll see where he's at after that start,” Ross said.
Ross at least added more clarity to his comments Sunday, when he said he couldn’t say whether Steele would make his next start with Iowa or Chicago.
The Cubs have been stretching out Steele and fellow rookie pitcher Keegan Thompson in Triple-A, setting up the potential for three rookies in the Cubs rotation on this post-trade-deadline squad. Right-hander Adbert Alzolay grabbed one of those starting spots out of spring training.
Both Steele and Thompson have minor-league starting experience.
“The pitch mix, the pitch-ability,” Ross said when asked what he saw from Steele and Thompson early in the year that could translate to starting. “When I say that, throwing strikes with multiple pitches, both of them coming in early on, the moment they handled really well. Brought them into some big games and with some traffic and they threw strikes, got out of big jams.
“The stuff grades out really well. Both of them have starter mixes. I know Steele's velocity has really ticked back up, throwing the ball extremely hard and well. Keegan, he was able to fill some holes for us when they both were here.”
Now, the Cubs just have to figure out where to slot in Steele and Thompson.