UPDATE: Steele exited with left forearm tightness, per a team announcement, which sure doesn’t sound great.
A tough May for the Chicago Cubs appears to have gotten even tougher on Wednesday afternoon, as lefty Justin Steele — in the midst of a breakout season — was forced to leave his start against the Tampa Bay Rays after just three innings with an apparent injury. David Ross and the team’s training staff came out to look at Steele after throwing a pitch in the third, and while he was able to finish the inning, it was Hayden Wesneski who took the mound for Chicago to start the fourth.
Justin Steele was met on the mound by Ross and one of Cubs' athletic trainers in 3rd. The lefty finished the inning, but Hayden Wesneski is now entering the game for Chicago.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) May 31, 2023
Will pass along an update on Steele when we get one.
We should get an update from the team at some point shortly, but there’s not yet been any word on why Steele was forced to leave — although he did appear to show some sort of arm discomfort in that third inning.
Justin Steele has been removed from the game after a 9up / 9down start to the game.— Ben Verlander (@BenVerlander) May 31, 2023
Only thing I could see was perhaps some left arm/shoulder discomfort after a pitch.
Obviously we don’t want to jump to conclusions, but if Steele were forced to miss time it would be a brutal blow for the Cubs. The lefty first burst onto the scene last season with a 3.11 ERA and has been even better this year, entering play on Wednesday with a 2.77 ERA and 1.108 WHIP in 11 starts so far this season. He and Marcus Stroman have been the only bankable options in Chicago’s rotation.
Wesneski would be the most likely option to fill Steele’s spot, as the righty showed tons of promise in 2022 and this spring before struggling in April. Top prospect Ben Brown has looked great so far this year, but he’s only thrown 24 innings above Double-A.