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When is Justin Steele Coming Back? Fantasy Baseball Injury Update

Justin Steele - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, Draft Sleepers, MLB Injury News

Back in 2014, the Chicago Cubs selected Justin Steele in the fifth round of the MLB draft. He finally made it to the big leagues in the 2021 season but didn't become a full-time starter for the Cubs until 2022. That year, the southpaw made 24 starts for Chicago, posting a 3.18 ERA and a 14.8% K-BB%.

Steele put it all together in 2023, tallying a 16-5 record with a 3.06 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and 19.6% K-BB% on his way to his first All-Star selection. He also finished fifth in NL Cy Young voting. All of that led to him being selected as the Cubs' ace and Opening Day starter in 2024. An injury on Opening Day, however, put the brakes on the momentum he had built.

What does that mean for his fantasy value? When will he return? Will he be the same pitcher once he returns? Let's take a look.

Be sure to check all of our fantasy baseball lineup tools and weekly lineup resources:


Justin Steele Injury Update for Fantasy Baseball

Justin Steele was rolling along during his Opening Day start, allowing just one earned run on three hits and one walk while striking out six in four-and-two-thirds innings against the defending World Series champion Texas Rangers. Then, after fielding a bunt, the lefty fell to the ground, clutching his left hamstring. The injury landed him on the IL and caused him to miss the first month of the season.

Thankfully, there is a definitive date for Steele's return: Monday, May 6. After making just one rehab start for Triple-A Iowa, the Cubs have deemed him ready to return to the rotation. Steele's Iowa start wasn't all that impressive, allowing three earned runs on six hits and one walk over three-and-a-third innings, but it shouldn't be all that worrisome. Veterans like Steele go there to shake the rust off and make sure all of their pitches are working more than trying to limit damage.


Justin Steele Fantasy Baseball Outlook

Thankfully for Steele, the Cubs, and fantasy managers, the injury he sustained was to his hamstring and not his throwing arm. That's not to say legs aren't important to a pitcher's delivery, they absolutely are -- especially the push-off leg -- but he's had plenty of time to get back into shape. Steele hasn't been rushed back into the rotation. So we should expect quality stuff from Steele from the get-go.

That being said, the Cubs likely aren't going to let him throw a complete game in his first start back, so look for him to be somewhat limited on Monday. The good news is that it's a home game for Steele and San Diego has the third-lowest batting average in the league as a team against left-handed pitching. As far as the rest of the season goes, the lefty should again be a strong top-of-the-rotation starter for both real-life and fantasy baseball. His ATC rest-of-season projection has him going 9-6 with a 3.67 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, and a 16.4% K-BB%.

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