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Mr. Consistent: Justin Steele has become one of best pitchers in baseball

12 months agoAndy Martinez

It’s almost becoming routine for Cubs starter Justin Steele.

The second year lefty turned in another gem for the Cubs, this time shutting out the potent Padres lineup over 5.1 innings in the Cubs’ 6-0 win. It’s the 12th straight start for Justin Steele allowing 2 or fewer earned runs, dating back to last season. He’s posted a 1.07 ERA, 1.07 WHIP with 76 strikeouts in 67 innings of work.

Steele’s run of 12 starts allowing 2 or fewer earned runs is the second-longest active streak in baseball, tied with Shohei Ohtani and trialing only Atlanta’s Max Fried.

“I think we’re starting to see him really maturing and growing as a pitcher,” catcher Yan Gomes said. “I feel like when we came into this season, we were talking about some of our young guys. I think he’s taken that next step of confidence and learning and himself and it’s exciting. He’s a great guy. He puts in a lot of work and it’s paying off and we’re enjoying seeing him do that.”

Tuesday, he did it against a Padres lineup littered with stars — and dominated. Steele allowed just 3 hits and 2 walks and had 5 strikeouts. The lefty had a career-high 15 called strikes on his fastball, a pitch that the Padres had a tough time picking up on.

“I think it’s a country-boy fastball,” Gomes said. “I think it comes out different. Obviously, the lefty angle, it’s gonna move a little bit different. But he has the ability of hiding it well and sometimes it looks like a slider, sometimes it goes up.”

The run Steele has been on has been a culmination of the work he’s put in since he first got to the big leagues. Steele thrived in a multi-inning relief when he first got to the big leagues and worked through the growing pains of being a major league starter in late 2021 and early last season.

“I mean even dating back to last year, even in the first half, I felt like there was adjustments I was making,” Steele said. “Not quite like one thing away from figuring it out or anything like that, but I felt like I was putting the right pieces together.”

And that’s led him to being one of the best pitchers in baseball since midway through last year.

“I think sometimes we get into a space like we have to do more, or we have to develop more pitches or use different sides of the plate,” Ross said. “What he’s been doing for a long time is just being consistent to his zones and his pitches and not getting off that till hitters adjust.

“I think he’s been really consistent. That’s hard to do. I think he’s just sticking to his game plan of what he does well.”

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