If Justin Steele keeps up this sort of pitching, there will be a case for him to be on the National League All-Star team. From BCB’s JohnW53:
With his 5⅓ shutout innings, Justin Steele has allowed no more than two earned runs in 12 consecutive starts, going back to July 22 of last season. That is the third-longest such streak in team history. Jack Taylor had 15 in a row in 1902 and Jake Arrieta had 14 in 2015-16. In his 12 games, Steele has pitched 67 innings and allowed eight earned runs, for an ERA of 1.08. He has given up 39 hits, five of them homers, while walking 23 and striking out 76.
The Cubs also got some strong bullpen work and a four-hit game from Yan Gomes, including a home run, and shut out the Padres 6-0 on five hits, the team’s fifth shutout of the season. They didn’t post five shutouts last year until May 16, the team’s 34th game. Also:
Cubs have 5 shutouts this season. Per Cubs, it ties a modern club record (since 1901) for most shutouts in Chicago's first 22 games of a season. Also done in 1969, 1907 and 1902.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) April 26, 2023
The Cubs took a 2-0 lead in the second inning. Trey Mancini singled and Gomes followed with his fifth home run of the year [VIDEO].
Steele threw 98 pitches and was lifted after facing Juan Soto to lead off the sixth. Here’s a breakdown of Steele’s evening [VIDEO].
One more note on Steele’s performance:
Justin Steele's notched 15 called strikes with his four-seamer (a career best, as @M_Montemurro noted) tonight.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) April 26, 2023
What makes the pitch so effective?
"It's a country-boy fastball," Cubs catcher Yan Gomes said. "It comes out different." pic.twitter.com/GAkuqdJI7E
Adbert Alzolay recorded two strikeouts to finish the sixth inning, then Mark Leiter Jr. and Keegan Thompson threw scoreless frames in the seventh and eighth.
The Cubs had some opportunities to score from the third through the seventh, but couldn’t cash in on several walks from Padres pitchers.
They finally broke through on the board again in the eighth. Patrick Wisdom drew a one-out walk. One out later, Mancini drew his second walk of the game — Cubs hitters walked eight times in all — and Gomes drove in Wisdom with this single [VIDEO].
That made this the fifth game of Gomes’ career where he had at least four hits (he also had a four-hit game for the Cubs last September).
Nelson Velázquez walked to load the bases, and Nico Hoerner cleared them with this triple [VIDEO].
Michael Rucker finished things up in the ninth, allowing a single and a walk, then striking out Fernando Tatis Jr. to end the game [VIDEO].
Tatis got loudly booed every time he came to bat, and chants of “Steroids!” were heard yelled at him in the outfield. Just think, he’s only got 12 more years left on his Padres deal to hear that!
The Padres seem greatly affected by the pitch timer. Tatis and Juan Soto were both called for batter timer violations and Padres reliever Ray Kerr also got one. I also noticed more Padres hitters call for timeouts than any other team that’s visited Wrigley Field so far this year. Could they be letting the timer get to them? If so, the Cubs should try to take advantage of that. The Padres didn’t look anything like the supposed juggernaut they became with their offseason signings.
Meanwhile, Gomes is looking like the hitter he was a few years ago with Cleveland and Washington. He’s hit five home runs in 14 games, compared to eight all of last year in 86 games with the Cubs. Gomes had some minor injuries that likely held him back last year; if he’s fully healthy, I don’t see why he can’t be productive at the plate as well as in the field.
And Steele is showing why the Cubs kept him on their 40-man roster for a couple of years while he was recovering from Tommy John surgery. Jed Hoyer has recently said he doesn’t think there will be any more in-season contract extensions offered this year, as there have been for Hoerner and Ian Happ, but I think one for Steele might be worth exploring.
One last game note: This game seemed to drag at times and ran 2:52. Much of that was from a lot of long counts, 13 total walks and 333 pitches thrown. A game like that last year would have come close to 3:30. The pitch timer is working.
The Cubs will go for two in a row over San Diego Wednesday evening at Wrigley Field. Drew Smyly will start for the Cubs and Michael Wacha goes for the Padres. Game time is again 6:40 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.