Justin Steele on track to rejoin Cubs this weekend
The Cubs rotation is on the verge of gaining another boost.
Justin Steele threw a bullpen against live hitters Tuesday and came out of it feeling fine on Wednesday. That puts him on track to return from the IL and make a start Saturday against the Baltimore Orioles at Wrigley Field.
Steele originally hit the shelf on June 1 after leaving his start on May 31 with tightness in his forearm.
“He’s on track to throw this weekend,” Cubs GM Carter Hawkins said on the Marquee Sports Network broadcast Wednesday night. “Hopefully we’ll be able to pull that off. Getting him back in the rotation will obviously be a boon.”
The 27-year-old southpaw is enjoying the best season of his young career. In 12 starts before the injury, he went 6-2 with a 2.65 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and only 2 homers allowed in 68 innings.
Steele has notched 8 quality starts this season while averaging nearly 6 innings per outing.
His return will strengthen a Cubs pitching staff that already has Marcus Stroman pitching like a Cy Young contender and Kyle Hendricks resembling “The Professor” of old.
When Steele rejoins the rotation, it will likely push Hayden Wesneski into a relief role which can help aid a group that has struggled to find consistency over the last six weeks.
“Depending on what we do with Wes or whoever else in our starting rotation could potentially help our bullpen out, too,” Hawkins said. “Encouraged about that. Just getting an arm like [Steele] back is a really good thing overall.”
Stroman will get the ball for the Cubs’ series finale with the Pirates Thursday night while Hendricks is on tap to throw Friday against Baltimore.
Saturday is Wesneski’s turn in the rotation, so he figures to be available out of the bullpen with the Cubs unlikely to push Steele hard coming off an arm injury.