Left-hander Justin Steele is scheduled to make his highly anticipated Cubs rotation debut on Tuesday against the Brewers, manager David Ross announced Sunday.
Rather than replacing another starter with Steele, the Cubs will expand their starting rotation to six men.
“We talked about this at length in spring training, about how are we going to manage guys’ innings coming off what we went through last year,” Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy said before the Crosstown Classic finale Sunday. “… Being on a six-day rotation, or being able to use off days to move pieces around to give guys rest, is just an important part of, one, the development of guys the rest if this year, but also maintaining the health and the workload that we want to have for next year.”
The importance of workload management applies to veteran pitchers as wells as rookies like Steele, Adbert Alzolay and Keegan Thompson, Hottovy said.
Steele remained in Triple-A Iowa after his rehab stint (hamstring strain) ended a month ago, stretching out to starter’s innings. He’s already posted a 2.03 ERA as a reliever since making his major-league debut in April.
“First off, getting a lefty in the rotation is fun,” Hottovy said. “It’s some new weapons, it’s some new scouting reports, thought processes of how we wanted to do some things.”
The Cubs have carried an all right-handed starting rotation this season.
“For him in particular,” Hottovy continued, “I think he's done everything he needed to do to show us his ability to be a starter and get stretched out. And now we're just excited to get our hands on him in more of a one-on-one (way). The starter relationship is way different than the reliever one, being able to work on things during bullpen days and have time to continue to refine things. That’s an important part of his process.
“And just excited to see him go out there and go two and three times through a lineup, and continue to attack with some plus-plus stuff.”
Steele slots in between Alec Mills and Jake Arrieta.