MLB Opening Day 2024: Cubs ace Justin Steele exits with apparent leg injury

Chicago Cubs ace Justin Steele went from a good Opening Day to a bad Opening Day in the span of a bunt.

The left-hander exited Thursday's season opener against the Texas Rangers due to an apparent leg injury after fielding a Leody Taveras bunt attempt. Steele fell to the ground, grabbed at his left leg and then gingerly walked off the field with trainers.

The injury ended what was shaping up to be a strong night for Steele against the defending World Series champions, with six strikeouts, three hits and one earned run in 4 2/3 innings. He threw 67 pitches.

Steele is coming off a breakout season with the Cubs last season, posting a 3.06 ERA, 3.02 FIP and 1.171 WHIP in 173 1/3 innings across 30 starts. His career appeared to be in question five years ago, when he posted a 5.59 ERA in Double-A in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery, but he has done nothing but progress in the years since.

Steele entered 2024 with expectations of being the top pitcher in a strong Cubs rotation alongside Kyle Hendricks and Shota Imanaga, but now the team can only hold its breath.