Steele is a Different Pitcher Now, Martin, Hendricks, Ashby, Possible Pitching Target, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Steele is a Different Pitcher Now, Martin, Hendricks, Ashby, Possible Pitching Target, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Apologies for the very late Bullets. I’m in the phase of Blogathon prep where I will let myself sleep as late as I possibly can, to try to bank some sleep before Monday. You fine folks did it with your donations to Make-A-Wish, and we’ve locked in the full 41-hour affair! So if you want additional shenanigans during the Blogathon, well, someone’s gonna have to come up with a great idea, and a higher fundraising level that matches the idea.

  • As noted in the EBS, Justin Steele’s final line last night (3.2 IP, 4 R, 0 ER) was almost exclusively the product of a 39-pitch third inning where the only thing he did wrong was throw a would-be wild pitch (that could have been blocked, and that barely clipped a pant leg). Otherwise, he did his part to record like six outs in the inning.
  • I like this take on Steele, overall, from himself and David Ross, via NBCSC:

“I feel like I’ve grown a lot,” Steele said. “I feel like I’m a completely different pitcher than I was a year ago. I’ve learned so much.

“I feel like with every outing, I learn something. I’ve definitely learned how to pitch and not just throw my pitches. I would say I’m definitely a completely different pitcher in a better way.”

Ross pointed to adjustments Steele has made, like throwing his fastball down and in more frequently, and noted the lefty’s improved ability to command his slider.

“The evolution is, ‘I found my strengths and been able to hone in on that,’” Ross said. “Not kind of searching for changeups and sinkers on both sides of the plate.

“He’s gotten to his strength and just hammered that and had a lot of success.”

  • It’s just true. Steele really is a different pitcher this year from last, not just in the results, but in how he uses his pitches. There’s a reason he is able to work up in the zone so aggressively and more or less never get barreled. He and the Cubs figured out how to pair those pitches with when he goes hard down and in to righties, rather than him trying to work the outer edge with the changeup and sinker (normally that’s what you’d want a lefty to do against righties, but (1) not every pitcher can make that work, and (2) not every lefty has the kind of four-seamer and slider that can work so well going inside on a righty).
  • Just keep Steele and Keegan Thompson healthy, and you’ve got two solid starters in place for next year, entirely home-grown and further developed at the big league level. Exactly what you want to see.
  • Poor David Ross. He became the meme of the night on Twitter when he flashed double birds – I think in a joking way to someone on the field (old friend Joc Pederson, perhaps?) – and the Marquee camera caught it coming back from break:
  • Also from last night’s game, great to see Chris Martin go over an inning (he can go multi-innings!) and strike out three (he has dominant stuff!). I tend to think he would be in a lower tier than guys like Andrew Chafin and Ryan Tepera last year – or Mychal Givens this year – but Martin has been very successful before, and his peripherals have been great this year. Gotta believe there’s a team out there that would trade a compelling prospect (would have to be a fringier, higher-risk type).
  • The news of it came down the pike at an awkward time for coverage, but the full details are out now on the Aaron Ashby extension (if you missed the news in the first place):
  • Ashby, 24, has been solid, if unspectacular, for the Brewers in parts of the last two seasons (4.43 ERA, 3.76 FIP), but he’s got upside. It’s a very Brewers extension, in that it offers up a decent-sized guaranteed chunk in exchange for cost-certainty during arbitration, and then a couple club options that could look very cheap if he takes the next step.
  • Gotta think Sean Newcomb is indeed going to get another shot with the big league team after the Trade Deadline:
  • He’s basically striking guys out at an absurd clip – even after moving into long relief and starts – but also walking them at an absurd clip. Nobody can hit him in either case. My guess is the Cubs will want him to come back up after whatever work they’ve put in, and see how he fares against big league bats for a couple months. Then they would have a tender decision come November.
  • Speaking of second half starts, Kyle Hendricks tested out his shoulder in the weight room and apparently still feels the effects of his shoulder strain (NBC). He can’t start throwing until that discomfort is gone, so it’s still very TBD on when or if he returns this year. For his part, he is staying optimistic and expects to return.
  • When Lance Brozdowski mentions a specific pitching name to watch, I pay close attention:
  • Like Lance said, Frasso is coming off of Tommy John surgery and if you look at the absurd stats and video, your eyes will pop. Clearly, something went right for him in the rehab, and if this is a guy the Cubs are actually targeting, it’s easy to see why:
  • I am a child and I giggled:

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.