We talked about the Cubs’ lefty concerns in the bullpen yesterday with the depth addition of Matt Dermody, so it shouldn’t be surprising that a roster move looms. Heck, it’s just an overall concern with the bullpen right now, but seeing Kyle Ryan get crushed last night as his velocity is still way down … yeah, it’s even more of a concern.
So, a young Cubs lefty is COMING TO THE RESCUE:
The Cubs will be adding lefty Justin Steele to their active roster before today’s game against the Pirates at Wrigley Field, sources said. Steele, 25, will be in position to make his big-league debut as the Cubs try to figure out their bullpen.
— Patrick Mooney (@PJ_Mooney) August 2, 2020
I kid about the “rescue,” because people shouldn’t put that weight on Steele, who has yet to pitch above AA. Much more on Steele here from Bryan back in the offseason.
That said, the 25-year-old lefty absolutely has big league stuff, with a mid-90s fastball with great late life and a wipeout curveball. He was continuing to work on a quality third pitch as he developed as a starter (interrupted by Tommy John surgery a couple years ago), but he’s long been a guy that you looked at and thought … hmm … that looks like a really good two-pitch reliever to me ….
Love this 5-pitch K from Justin Steele. Really get a feel for how tough he can be just with his preferred 2 pitches. A curve he can manipulate for strike or as chase pitch. A fastball with late life. Don’t be fooled by bad 2019 numbers, still a big league caliber arm developing. pic.twitter.com/Eol15qQthY
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) December 2, 2019
Bryan also says that Steele has been working recently to add a slider, so maybe he’ll work with three pitches in relief. Would love to see that.
So now Steele will get his shot. Thing is, the state of the bullpen is such that if he looks decent in his first appearance, he’s gonna get another one. And he’s probably gonna get some decent leverage spots right away, too, given that the only other lefties in the bullpen are Ryan and Rex Brothers, who was a disaster the other night. It’s really gonna be a see-what-you’re-made-of moment for Steele. Again, the stuff is big-league caliber. But you don’t know how well a guy can actually use it until the bell rings.
Steele is already on the 40-man, so there’s no roster move required there. As for a corresponding 30-man move, I wonder if Ryan is going on the IL? Or will another reliever just be moved out? Or is there another injury we don’t yet know about?
UPDATE: The corresponding move has been announced, and it’s reliever James Norwood to the IL with right shoulder inflammation (something that can range from a serious problem to a way to put a guy on the IL when you need a spot). The move is retroactive to July 30, so Norwood would be eligible to return in about a week.