Commentary: Man of Steele hopefully won't miss time
David Banks - USA Today Sports

Commentary: Man of Steele hopefully won't miss time

by - Staff Writer -

The Cubs organization will spend its off day on Thursday with a collective nervousness as they await the news on the other end of Justin Steele's imaging on his left arm.

Steele started Wednesday's 4-3 loss against the Rays, and while the Cubs squandered their chance to complete the sweep over MLB's best team — all of the attention postgame was on the 28-year-old and any news about his throwing arm.

Steele was pulled from the game after three perfect innings pitched. According to Steele, he began to feel some throbbing in his left elbow after the second inning, and during the third inning, his left forearm tightened up. He was able to retire the side in the third — but for precautionary reasons, Steele was kept out of the game.

"When he went back out there in the 3rd, I got word that he had a little bit of throbbing in the elbow, but didn't feel it throwing, just as he was cooling down," Ross said after the game. "Radar went way up. I talked to the trainers. They felt comfortable, then I watched him pumping his hand and stretching the forearm a little bit and went out and checked on him. Said he didn't feel it all, no tingling, no shot down the arm, anything like that, so I let him finish."

Cubs manager David Ross added, "I don't think anybody needs to sound any alarms just yet," but he also confirmed that Steele would not travel with the team to San Diego on Thursday.

Instead, he will stay in Chicago and undergo imaging and tests on the left arm.

When you hear forearm tightness and elbow throbbing, you fear the worst: Tommy John. But, according to both Ross and Steele, it appears they think the injury was nothing more than soreness, and the move was simply precautionary. But what a tremendous blow to the Cubs rotation it would be for Steele to miss a start or two — let alone the rest of this season if it's something terrible.

Not only has Steele been one of the most reliable starters in baseball over the last calendar year, but he also boasts a record of 6-2 with an ERA of 2.77 in his third year in the pros. Not to mention, Steele — I would argue — has been and will be the most important domino of the rebuild.

Steele is the Cubs' best young pitcher, but he also is the poster boy of this era of Cubs' baseball's attempt to show the world that they CAN develop homegrown pitching, an absolutely essential component of sustained success — something the last competitive Cubs team lacked in a big way.

Should Steele miss time, the Cubs could cover his spot in his rotation at least briefly — Marcus Stroman is pitching as good as he ever has, Drew Smyly has been supremely reliable for the Cubs, Kyle Hendricks has returned from injury, and is coming back to form.

Jameson Taillon is battling through his struggles and is building off of a nice outing, and Hayden Wesneski was just called back up to the big league club and delivered 3.2 strong innings of relief for Steele on Wednesday.

Not to mention, David Ross mentioned that Javier Assad has been stretched out, and Caleb Kilian leads the Iowa Cubs in innings thus far.

Again, it is unknown how long, if at all, Steele will be out due to injury. But the Cubs appear to have at least some backfill if Steele should miss time — but a lengthy absence could be detrimental to the Cubs' hopes this season and the trajectory of their rebuild.

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