Cubs News

Justin Steele picks up right where he left off in return from IL

11 months agoAndy Martinez

Since the calendar turned to June, Patrick Wisdom has never really been himself.

In 8 games this month, he is just 2-for-24 with no extra-base hits, 3 walks and 16 strikeouts. Saturday morning, the Cubs placed the slugger on the 10-day IL with a right wrist sprain, an injury manager David Ross said “he’s been dealing with … for probably about two weeks.”

In a corresponding move, the Cubs activated lefty starter Justin Steele off the IL to start Saturday’s game against the Orioles.

Wisdom had tried to play through the injury but re-aggravated the injury Friday afternoon sliding for a ball in left field. A wrist injury hampered his performance at the plate, limiting his strength as a player — his ability to hit for power.

“Especially the size of bat that he swings and the power he brings, for sure,” Ross said. “It’s important. You can tell he’s off.”

The righty had started the season on quite a tear, hitting 10 home runs in April with a .965 OPS and 155 weighted runs created plus. Since then, Wisdom has a .541 OPS with 4 home runs, a 44.3% strikeout rate and a 51 wRC+. His struggles coincided with the Cubs’ tough offensive stretch — the team is 18-24 since May 1 and scored just 3.95 runs per game. The Cubs averaged 5.41 runs per game in April.

“He’s an important piece especially the way he hits lefties,” Ross said. “You could tell yesterday, just wasn’t himself still. Just that wrist is bothering him. I don’t know how serious. Like I don’t think it’s surgery. But it definitely needs some medicine and some downtime.”

In his absence, the Cubs will likely turn to Nick Madrigal and Miles Mastrobuoni to fill third base. Ross could opt to platoon the two and give opposing pitchers a different look. Christopher Morel can fill in at the hot corner, too, but he has yet to appear in a game at the position this season in the majors.

Steele mostly looked as sharp as he has all season. The lefty allowed just 2 runs — a 2-run home run to Adley Rutschman in the 5th inning — across 5 innings of work with 4 strikeouts and permitting just 5 hits and a walk. Steele worked out of some potential trouble inducing a fielder’s choice groundball with 2 on and 2 out in the 2nd and another fielder’s choice with 2 on and 2 out in the 4th.

The 27-year-old landed on the IL on June 1 with a left forearm strain, leaving his outing against the Rays on May 31 after just 3 innings of work and a strikeout. Steele and the Cubs weren’t too overly worried about the injury, though.

“I’m really not too concerned about it,” Steele said after that start. “I think it was more just precautionary.”

Steele has been one of the Cubs’ best starters this year, pitching to a 2.71 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in 73 innings of work. If the Cubs hope to continue to make up ground in the NL Central, a healthy Steele is a crucial piece.


  • The Cubs activated Edwin Ríos from the 10-day IL and optioned him to Iowa. He landed on the IL on June 4 with a left groin strain. Ríos is hitting .071 with a home run in 28 at-bats this season.

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