Can Keegan Thompson and Justin Steele be apart of the next great Cubs rotation?
The Chicago Cubs are nowhere near contention this season and it will take some time before they re-enter the contention conversation. For now, Chicago must focus on getting the right pieces for the next great team. Two young pitchers to keep an eye on are Justin Steele and Keegan Thompson. Both have shown flashes this season that they can be effective at the major league level. Moreover, they have stepped up in what has been an injury-plagued starting rotation for the Cubs.
Thompson, 27, made his MLB debut last season for the Cubs. It’s safe to say he has taken the next step this season. Putting together a 7-2 record with a strong 3.10 ERA has given Manager David Ross an effective starter. Additionally, Thompson has back-to-back quality starts against the Atlanta Braves and Pittsburgh Pirates. Furthermore, he started off lights out in the bullpen before transitioning into a starting role with the multiple injuries affecting the Cubs rotation.
Keegan Thompson's last two starts:
2 W pic.twitter.com/Zhy2VXdOdD
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 23, 2022
Drafted in the third round of the 2017 MLB Draft by the Cubs, Thompson has been one of few homegrown talents to emerge from the system. With a dazzling fastball, cutter, and curve combination, it has been fun watching Thompson bulldoze through opposing lineups. There is a lot to like about him, and in a down year for the Cubs, Thompson has been one of few bright spots.
Steele, 26, has had an up and down season. With a 4.59 ERA, there have been a fair share of good outings along with a rough one every now and then. Similar to Thompson, Steele debuted with the Cubs last season and is getting a look as a potential starter moving forward.
He gave up five runs in today’s game against Pittsburgh, however, racked up eight strikeouts in five innings. He has swing and miss stuff as seen in his 10 strikeout game against the Arizona Diamondbacks earlier this season. Steele relies heavily on a fastball-slider combo. He doesn’t throw his curveball often but it is a good pitch for him. Look for development over the course of the next few seasons on that pitch in order to strengthen his pitching arsenal.
Both Thompson and Steele are tough guys who have an edge while they’re pitching. So far, they have shown to be solutions in the rotation. As the Cubs go through a rebuilding period, these two young pitchers have been fun to watch. The future of the Cubs starting staff is in good hands.
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