Chicago Cubs: Alec Mills could force his way into the starting rotation

(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

Cubs right-hander Alec Mills has a great deal of potential heading into 2020.

A shortened MLB season is underway for 2020 and players are set to report to spring training 2.0 which is currently known as ‘summer camp’ on July 1. Workouts have been slated to begin for all 30 teams on July 3 and the Opening Day is set for July 23-24. Before the players can suit up and play ball, there are many things that every ball club needs to get sorted out. In the Chicago Cubs case, one of these things is their pitching.

With the new rules for this unique season comes the option of a six-man rotation. The million-dollar question is: would having a six-man rotation help or hurt the team? Backtracking to what little of spring traning took place in late February and early March, the Cubs had four of their five starters practically locked in. Those four, of course, are Jon Lester, Yu Darvish, Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana. When it came to the fifth starter, the spot was up for grabs.

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While it seemed likely to go to veteran Tyler Chatwood, both right-handers Adbert Alzolay and Alec Mills were vying for the spot. If Cubs’ new skipper David Ross decides the team should go with the traditional five-man rotation, Chatwood would probably get that spot, leaving Alzolay and Mills to the bullpen.

If Chatwood fizzles out as he did in 2018, maybe one of the two could find themselves with a starting role. Based on Mills’ track record, I believe he is most worthy of filling the final spot in the rotation.

Now, if Ross goes with the rather untraditional six-man option, both Alzolay and Mills both have more of a shot at a starting role. But again, as far as which one should end up with the spot, I believe Mills shows the greatest deal of potential. Mills, 28, was given opportunities to prove himself in early spring and he ran with them. Hopefully ‘summer camp’ will aide him in the same way. As for his time in the major leagues, Mills has shown potential there as well.

While filling in for the Cubs across 2018 and 2019, he made a total of 16 appearances owning a 3.17 ERA. Mills made multiple starts at the end of 2019, where he pitched multiple innings and finished with a 2.75 ERA, 26 strikeouts and six walks over 20 innings in four starts. In Adbert Alzolay’s case, the 24-year-old made his MLB debut at the end of last season and made two starts and two relief appearances before he was sent back to the minor leagues. He posted a 7.30 ERA.

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Looking at the Mills and Alzolay side by side, both Mill’s experience, and success show the potential he displays going into 2020. Between playing time in ‘summer camp’ and the decisions made by skipper Ross, time will tell just how much of Alec Mills we will be seeing.