Elias's Incredible Streak Comes to an End, Steele Improves, Baseball Oddities, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Elias’s Incredible Streak Comes to an End, Steele Improves, Baseball Oddities, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

You just hope Damar Hamlin is going to be OK. The Bills safety who collapsed on the field last night is sedated at the hospital in critical condition. It’s heavy on the mind this morning.

Meanwhile, in the baseball world …

  • The incredible run for (new) Cubs lefty Roenis Elias in the Dominican Winter League has come to a close:
  • For context, even if not the same thing: the longest scoreless streak in MLB history is Orel Hershiser’s 59.0 innings in 1988. Elias’s scoreless streak of 41.1 innings, if he’d done it in MLB, would be the 9th longest in history. (Did you remember that Zac Gallen threw the 7th longest such streak in MLB history earlier this year, at 44.1 innings?)
  • Despite the end of the scoreless streak, it was another great night overall for Elias, who has been dominant this winter ball season:
  • Elias, 34, will get serious consideration for a big league roster spot this spring if his performance in the Dominican Republic is remotely reflective of a post-surgery corner he’s turned. Because he’s in on a minor league deal, the Cubs don’t have to place Elias on the big league roster immediately – if, for example, they want to send him to Iowa to keep starting and stay ready. But he is assuredly going to have an early opt-out available in his deal, so the Cubs will probably have to make a decision on him within a month or two. I am kinda fascinated by the surprise potential here.
  • The CHGO Cubs guys talk about what they most want to see from the Cubs in 2023, and I loved Brendan Miller’s thoughts on Justin Steele:

Many players could emerge as stars on the 2023 Cubs team, but only Justin Steele showcased consistent success, dramatic changes and ceiling elevation. Steele’s fastball pitch grade by Cameron Grove’s scoring algorithm was among the most improved pitches from June to the end of last season. By the end of 2022, Steele’s fastball pitch grade was better than almost 85 percent of MLB starters. Steele improved his fastball by embracing its cutting action and throwing more towards the shins of right-handed batters, a strategy that Lester suggested. By following Lester’s advice, Steele not only increased his command score but also increased its spin rate and competitive misses. With 125 innings under his belt and growing confidence, Steele has a realistic chance to cement himself as a staple for this current Cubs team and teams in the next half decade.

  • Like I wrote this weekend, Steele doesn’t even have to take a step forward in order to be a very, very good starter for the Cubs. He just has to do exactly what he did in 2022. BUT IF HE DOES take another step forward? I mean, he could easily be a two. Maybe even better.
  • I love Pedro Strop:
  • Shawon Dunston did NOT like this Jason Bates slide:
  • At every turn in that video, I’m like, Oh hey, there’s that guy! Oh and him! That’s fun.
  • If you missed any of Jayson Stark’s annual Strange But True pieces:
  • The Cubs’ 21-0 win over the Pirates from early in the season – remember that one? – came in for a section in Stark’s second piece, and it’s quite fun:

There hadn’t been a 21-0 game in baseball since … Aug. 13, 1939! That was Yankees 21, A’s nada, at the late, great Shibe Park in Philadelphia. And before that, you’d have to go all the way back to the first season in American League history (Tigers 21, Cleveland Blues 0, on Sept. 15, 1901) to find another 21-0 baseball game, at least in AL or NL annals. But I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: That’s because 21-0 isn’t a baseball score. It’s …

A football score? So you think that’s a Bears score, not a Cubs score, huh? Hahahahaha. To find the last time the Bears won a 21-0 regular-season football game, you’d need more than a season ticket to Soldier Field. You’d need your own way-back machine … because that last 21-0 game occurred on Nov. 5, 1944 … when Sid Luckman threw for two scores and ran for another, against the extremely pre-Aaron Rodgers Packers. But now here’s the real reason we bring up that game. Because …

The last 21-0 game at Wrigley Field … wasn’t a Cubs game. It was that Bears game! Because the Cubs had never played a 21-0 game at Wrigley … but the Bears had, because … ehhh, football?

  • That wasn’t the only Cubs-Pirates mention in the column – their double-no-hitter in the Dominican Summer League also got some love. That’s right, if you forgot about it: each team no-hit the other. Cubs won 2-0 thanks to some walks and mistakes. There’s just a ton more in Stark’s pieces, including lots of other Cubs-related bits.
  • A bit of the Cubs’ future is coming to the Obvious Shirts store for a meet and greet:
  • The ramp-back-up is coming:

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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.