A City Just Declared It 'Justin Steele Day', and I Think That Is Absolutely Delightful

Social Navigation

A City Just Declared It ‘Justin Steele Day’, and I Think That Is Absolutely Delightful

Chicago Cubs

Here’s your happy Saturday story, with Chicago Cubs pitcher Justin Steele getting some hometown due.

The 26-year-old lefty made his big league debut this season for the Cubs, flashing clear big league stuff, dominance in short bursts, and just enough in longer appearances to leave us holding out hope for a rotation spot next year. It was a great story for an organization that has had so few developmental wins on the pitching side over the last decade, and it’s a pretty critical piece of the 2022 story if the Cubs are going to be competitive.

For Steele’s hometown of Lucedale, Mississippi, though, it was enough to give Steele the highest of local honors: he has his own official “Day” now! As part of a jersey retirement ceremony at his old stomping grounds, the city revealed its official Justin Steele Day:

That’s really cool, man. You gotta give congrats for that.

On the year, Steele posted a 4.26 ERA over 57.0 innings split between 9 starts and 11 relief appearances. His peripherals were a mixed bag, mostly by virtue of an unsightly home run rate, which can be flukey in a small sample. Indeed, his expected wOBA was quite a bit better than his actual wOBA allowed, further suggesting that his performance didn’t necessarily merit the results he got (in a good way). As further evidence, Statcast calculates expected home runs based on contact quality, compared to how many actually left the park, and Steele looks unlucky there, too (12 given up, only 9 expected). That difference was actually 13th highest in baseball among ALL pitchers, despite his limited innings.

Heading into 2022, it’s clear that Steele will be an important contributor for the Cubs. Whether that comes in a multi-inning relief role, a setup role, or in the rotation (or, more likely, a mix of all three) remains to be seen. No need to peg him to a particular job right now before the offseason even gets underway.

Congrats on the debut season, and the special honor back home!

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.