Cubs

Observations: Steele shows promise in starting debut

Cubs
USA TODAY

Justin Steele didn't walk away from his first big-league start with a win.

But he offered a potential glimpse into the Cubs' future, one with him in the starting rotation.

Steele made his first MLB start in Game 1 of Tuesday's doubleheader against the Brewers, taking the loss in a 4-2 Milwaukee win.

Here are 10 observations from the game.

1. Steele was nearly perfect the first time through the Brewers’ order. He faced one over the minimum, throwing 33 pitches through three innings while allowing a single.

2. Steele induced groundballs to eight of Milwaukee’s first nine hitters, which includes Eduardo Escobar's infield single to second baseman Sergio Alcántara in the first

3. Following a long bottom of the third, Steele gave up hard contact in the fourth, surrendering a solo home run, double and two-run home run in an eight-pitch span. Pitching coach Tommy Hottovy came out for a visit and Steele got back on track, retiring the next three batters he faced.

"It was nice for him to settle in and still give us some outs after that," David Ross said. "Things happen quick, especially here sometimes.

"He settled in nicely and locked it back in. It was nice to see."

4. Cubs manager David Ross said pregame one of the things he would be keeping an eye on from Steele is how he fields his position. In the first, he corralled a chopper in front of the mound, set his body and fired a strike to retire Avi Garcia at first base.

 

5. Steele pitched to contact and finished with one strikeout in five innings. He threw 70 pitches in his big-league starting debut, allowing five hits, three runs (all earned) and one walk.

6. It feels like Willson Contreras gets hit by a pitch every game vs. Milwaukee. He stayed in the game after taking a Freddy Peralta fastball off the left hand in the third. Since last season, Milwaukee has plunked Contreras eight times in 21 games.

7. Patrick Wisdom tossed his bat and stared Peralta down while slowly walking to first base after drawing a bases-loaded walk in the third. It came two batters after Contreras’ hit by pitch.

8. Rafael Ortega continues to make a strong impression in the leadoff spot, long a revolving door for the Cubs. He went 3-for-4, bumping his average to .403 (25-for-62) in 18 games leading off this season, with a .448 on-base percentage.

9. The Cubs put the tying run on second with one out in the seventh after Ian Happ singled but didn't cash in. Patrick Wisdom and Greg Deichmann struck out.

10. With the loss, the Cubs dropped to 3-10 against the Brewers this season. They went 5-5 against them in the 60-game 2020 season.

On deck: First pitch for Game 2 is 7:05 p.m. Alec Mills (5-4, 4.41 ERA) and Aaron Ashby (0-0, 54.00 ERA) are the probable starters.   

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