Justin Steele’s MLB debut serves as bright spot amid difficult day for Cubs
Amid a difficult night as a team, Justin Steele’s MLB debut served as a bright spot for the Cubs Monday in Milwaukee.
The day started with another positive coronavirus test and three relievers placed on the COVID-19 list, prompting the Cubs to find three replacements in the bullpen for Monday’s game against the Brewers.
One big inning sunk the Cubs’ fortunes but Steele got the final out of that frame and looked impressive in his big-league debut.
The 25-year-old lefty was called up to the majors last summer but never appeared in a game. He got four outs in Monday’s loss, striking out a pair of batters while allowing a hit, a walk and a hit-batter.
He featured a fastball that sat in the mid-90s and also worked in his slider.
“That was nice,” David Ross said. “I wish it would’ve been under different circumstances but that’s always nice to see a kid go out there and do well.
“It was nice to see him handle the moment, coming into the game, just getting called up this morning in a last minute fire drill and go out there and compete in a major league game. I was happy for him.”
Steele was the Cubs’ 5th-round pick in 2014 out of George County High School in Lucedale, Miss. He has a 3.62 ERA in 80 career minor-league games, working mostly as a starting pitcher.
He battled through injury — including Tommy John surgery in 2017 — in his climb to Chicago and he finally realized his lifelong dream Monday night:
Adbert Alzolay — who started Monday’s game — has grown up alongside Steele in the Cubs farm system. The two were a part of the same pitching staff from 2013-17, which included stops at Rookie Ball, short-season Class-A, Low-A and High-A.
“I get chills,” Alzolay said. “When I saw him out there on the mound, I was the happiest man in that dugout. We literally have been playing together since we were 18 years old.
“He’s my boy. Every time that I see a guy coming from down the farm to make it to the big leagues and getting those opportunities out there, it just made me so happy to see a guy like Justin Steele coming out here and showing what he can do in this game.”