Chicago Cubs: These three young arms could be difference-makers

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Chicago Cubs
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Chicago Cubs: Alec Mills

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Alec Mills is a little older than the other two arms on this list, as 2020 will be his age 28 season. The right-hander has been up and down with the big league club over the past couple of seasons, yet he’s shown enough that he should be in the conversation for at least a bullpen spot, if not a spot in the starting rotation.

The Royals drafted Mills in the 22nd round in 2012. He pitched well for them in the minors, but before the 2017 season they traded him to the Cubs for Donnie Dewees. In 2017, Mills was the 20th rated prospect in the Cubs’ farm system, so he hasn’t been on their radar much in the past.

Still, Mills earned a callup in 2018, making two starts and seven appearances overall. He allowed eight runs in 18 innings pitched. Then, despite a 5.11 ERA in Iowa, Mills impressed during his time with the big league club in 2019.

Overall, he pitched 36 innings and allowed just 11 earned runs. He was most impressive against the Cardinals, making two starts at the end of the season and allowing just one run while striking out 15 in 9 2/3 innings combined. His other two starts, made back in July, were also solid.

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Mills has always shown a good walk rate, and over the past two years he’s struck out more than one batter per inning in the majors. The Cubs will be attached to a lot of starting pitchers in rumors this offseason, but they should give Mills a shot at being the team’s fifth starter. He could end up being a cheap alternative to an overpriced middle-to-back end starter via the free agent market.