Cubs Ace Justin Steele Sends 6-Word Message After Exiting With Injury

Justin Steele

Getty Justin Steele says he is alright after Cactus League game exit

The Chicago Cubs faced the San Francisco Giants on March 22 in Cactus League play. The Cubs ace, Justin Steele, started the game for the Cubs but exited early with a leg injury. Steele took a comebacker off his left leg in the top of the 2nd inning.

Steele took to social media to provide an update about his injury. His six-word response indicated that there was more reason to be concerned with his March Madness bracket than his leg.

“I’m okay… my bracket is not,” Steele wrote on X.

Justin Steele Set to Lead the Cubs Rotation in 2024

Steele made his fourth Cactus League start of 2024 before his outing was cut short. In four outings Steele has a 4.91 ERA across 11.0 innings. Steele was named the Cubs’ Opening Day starter on March 9. The March 22 outing was scheduled as his “final tune-up” before opening day, according to’s Jordan Bastian.

Steele was drafted by the Cubs out of George County High School in 2014. He did not make his major league debut until 2021. After years as a minor leaguer, Steele will make his first career opening day start in 2023.

“It’s not always going to be pretty. It’s not always going to be how you thought of it,” Steele said on March 9, according to Bastian. “But sometimes you’ve just got to put your head down, get through the tough times, and the light’s always brighter at the end of the tunnel.”

Steele had a 16-5 record with a 3.06 ERA in 2023. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award voting.

Behind Steele, the Cubs’ rotation includes Kyle Hendricks, Shota Imanaga, Jordan Wicks and Javier Assad. Right-hander Jameson Taillon will start the season on the injured list, according to Bastian.

State of the Cubs Rotation

The Cubs added left-hander Shōta Imanaga in free agency this offseason. Imanaga had a 7-5 record in Japan last season with a 2.77 ERA. Imanaga signed a four-year, $53 million contract, according to Bastian. The deal includes an option for the Cubs to extend the deal to five years in 2025 and 2026.

“The general consensus is that Imanaga can immediately step in as a No. 2-3 caliber arm. Last year, while pitching for Yokohama in Nippon Professional Baseball, Imanaga spun a 2.80 ERA in 148 innings with a league-leading 174 strikeouts,” Bastian wrote.

Imanaga has made three Cactus League starts. He has 19 strikeouts in 9.2 innings this spring. The 30-year-old southpaw and Steele could be an elite pairing at the top of the rotation.

The Cubs will return veteran Hendricks for his 11th season with the club. Outside of him, the Cubs rotation is relatively young. Imanaga, Steele, Wicks and Assad have fewer years in the majors combined than Hendricks.

Hendricks has made three Opening Day starts in his career. The 34-year-old is confident that Steele will handle the pressure well.

“Game 1 is tough because there’s so much emotion and energy. He’s going to deal with it great,” said Hendricks, according to Bastian.

The Cubs ranked No. 9 in ERA in the majors last season. Led by Steele and Imanaga they have a chance to be even better in 2024.

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