MLB News

Justin Steele injury: Cubs ace lands on IL with hamstring strain, expected to be out until at least May

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Chicago Cubs left-hander Justin Steele exited his start on Thursday night against the Texas Rangers after suffering what the Cubs initially called left hamstring tightness during the bottom of the fifth inning, though manager Craig Counsell later confirmed that it was a left hamstring strain. A subsequent MRI revealed Grade 1 strain that is expected to sideline Steele for the month of April, according to what Counsell told reporters on Saturday

“You’re thinking that it’s just a shame,” Counsell said when asked about his thoughts when Steele went down. “He’s pitching really, really well. Obviously an important member of the team, and it looks like we’re gonna miss him for a little bit here.” 

Steele went down after successfully fielding a Leody Taveras push bunt and tossing to first base for the second out in the inning. He then began to grab at his hamstring, taking some time before making his way to the Cubs dugout. Here’s a look at the play:

Steele, 28, had pitched well to that point in the night. In 4 2/3 innings he had surrendered one run on three hits and a walk. He had also struck out six batters, generating a game-high 10 swinging strikes, including six on his fastball.

Steele has developed into a high-quality starter for the Cubs in recent seasons. Over the last two years, he’s compiled a 3.11 ERA (140 ERA+) and a 3.51 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 292 innings pitched. Last season, he made his first career All-Star Game appearance.

Steele’s absence represents another big blow for the club’s pitching staff. Chicago is already without veteran right-hander Jameson Taillon, who began the season on the shelf because of a strained shoulder. The Cubs have since called up right-hander Ben Brown, who has good stuff but command woes, to fill Steele’s roster spot. It stands to reason that Cade Horton, ranked by CBS Sports as the No. 18 prospect entering the spring, would have been in consideration for a promotion had this injury happened a little later in the season. 

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