Steele's goal? 'Be known for my consistency'

September 7th, 2021

CHICAGO -- The goal for Justin Steele over the 2021 season's final weeks is to continue to do his part to cement his place in the Cubs' rotation next year. And Steele has a long-term vision for himself as part of that puzzle.

"At some point in my career," Steele said, "I think it'd be really cool to throw a complete game. That's where my head's at. I want to go deeper into games. I want to be that starting pitcher that everybody can rely on.

"Every time I take the mound, they can expect consistency. I want to be known for my consistency."

In Monday's 4-3 victory over the Reds, Steele was consistent in that he worked five shutout innings for the second outing in a row. Unlike two turns ago against the Twins, the lefty was allowed the chance to work the sixth against Cincinnati.

That is when things started to unravel on Steele.

"It was his first time toeing the rubber in the big league game [for his] sixth inning," Cubs bench coach and acting manager Andy Green said. "It starts to catch up to some guys sometimes. The beauty of that is it's a tremendous learning experience for him. And he pitched efficiently enough to get to that sixth inning with hardly being taxed."

To that point, Steele got through the first five innings on 64 pitches. Through the first four frames, the lefty balanced four strikeouts with eight groundouts. He sought early-count contact (with the help of an effective sinker) and leaned on both his curveball and slider.

"It's really important for a young pitcher like him to understand what team he's facing," Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said. "We understood that the Reds are one of the hardest, most difficult teams to strike out. Our plan was to attack the hitters. Attack the zone early in the count, which he did really well."

In the sixth, Steele issued a leadoff walk, allowed a double and hit back-to-back hitters before being pulled. The lefty said the lesson learned was that he went away from what worked in the first five innings and was trying to make pitches "nastier" than necessary.

"I've just got to take what I'm doing through the first five innings," Steele said, "and just keep it going, keep translating it over. I think I was just kind of forcing some things in that last inning. Nothing that I can't fix."

Hermosillo 'banged up' at moment

With left-hander Wade Miley starting for the Reds on Tuesday, it seemed glaring that outfielder Michael Hermosillo was out of the lineup for the Cubs. Green noted that Hermosillo has indeed been "banged up" with a left forearm issue.

"We're checking him day by day at this point in time," Green said. "It's just definitely on the sore side for him and impacting his ability to swing the bat for the last few days."

Hermosillo last played Saturday, when he had two at-bats as an in-game substitute against the Pirates. Green noted that the outfielder showed up Sunday morning with swelling and soreness in the forearm.

Worth noting

• Infielder Nico Hoerner (10-day injured list, right oblique) was "doing well" the day after going through a full pregame workout, per Green. The Cubs' acting manager expressed optimism about Hoerner's chances of returning to game action soon.

"He's still got a few more hurdles to clear," Green said, "before I think the medical staff is good about him being out in a competitive setting again. But he's doing well and hopefully moving towards that."

• First baseman Frank Schwindel notched his 30th RBI with the Cubs on Monday. Per the Elias Sports Bureau, Schwindel joined Joe Pepitone (1970) and Andre Dawson (1987) as the only Cubs in the past 60 years to have at least 30 RBIs in their first 33 games with the franchise.

• The Cubs have named Double-A outfielder Nelson Velazquez (.325 average, 15 extra-base hits, 1.117 OPS in 22 games) and High-A righty Max Bain (2.96 ERA, 27 strikeouts, eight walks, .172 opponents' average in 24 1/3 innings) their Minor League Player and Pitcher of the month for August.