Cubs’ Justin Steele, facing Giants, shoots to stop winless streak

Field Level Media

June 18, 2024 at 10:18 am.

It would be difficult to find a major league pitcher more deserving of a victory this season than Chicago Cubs left-hander Justin Steele.

Steele is scheduled to make his 10th start of the year for the Cubs on Tuesday night against the visiting San Francisco Giants, and the 28-year-old still is looking for his first win.

Steele (0-3, 3.22 ERA) has been especially snakebit in his past four outings, giving up one run or none while pitching at least five innings each time. He went 0-1 in those games thanks to little support his defense, as he gave up six unearned runs over his past three appearances, and the bullpen.

“As a pitcher, you can only control the controllables,” Steele said. “I just try to put my team in a position to win every time I go out there.”

Steele has lowered his ERA from 5.68 to 3.22 over his past four starts.

He threw six shutout innings in his most recent outing, on Thursday against the host Tampa Bay Rays, and departed with a 2-0 lead. However, the bullpen surrendered three runs in the seventh and the Cubs lost 3-2.

“Steele is really good,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “He creates a lot of deception. He really kept us off-balance.”

Steele also threw seven shutout innings on May 27 against the Milwaukee Brewers and departed with the game scoreless before the Brewers went on to win 5-1.

“All of this is going to help us in the long run,” Steele said. “It’s a long season. Down the road, I feel like we’re really going (to improve) and come out better.”

Steele has made three starts in his career against the Giants, going 1-2 with a 2.16 ERA.

The Cubs need a spark after closer Hector Neris surrendered a three-run homer to Thairo Estrada in the ninth inning of the series opener on Monday night, giving San Francisco the 7-6 victory.

It was the fourth blown save by Neris in his 14 save opportunities this year and his second squandered lead in the past three games. Cubs manager Craig Counsell said he didn’t anticipate Neris losing his closer’s role.

“We’re always going to examine the best way to get 27 outs every day, and we’re going to need Hector to be a part of that,” Counsell said.

The Giants, on the other, got a strong finishing effort from Camilo Doval on Monday following a rocky non-save appearance against the Los Angeles Angels. On Sunday, he allowed four runs and four hits in one-third of an inning before the Giants closed out the 13-6 win.

Doval needed just 11 pitches to set the Cubs down in order on Monday after the first two relievers for San Francisco gave up three runs each.

Logan Webb is scheduled to start on the mound for San Francisco on Tuesday.

Webb (6-5, 3.02 ERA) won each of his past two outings, beating the Texas Rangers 5-2 on June 7 and the Astros 5-3 on Wednesday. Against Houston, he surrendered three runs on seven hits in six innings with five strikeouts and no walks.

“I just keep doing better and better, which is incentive for myself,” Webb said after his latest outing. “(Against the Astros), I felt really good early on. Kind of towards the end I had to fight some of the pitches that I was throwing, locations I was throwing them. Got to go back and watch video and hopefully just keep building on it.”

Webb has made three starts in his career against the Cubs, producing a 2-1 record with a 4.58 ERA.