Cubs News: What to make of Alec Mills’ rough start Wednesday

Alec Mills (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
Alec Mills (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
Alec Mills (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: The trends for Mills might be able to tell what we could get in the future from Mills.

The first few starts for Mills in 2020 were very impressive, combined 13 innings giving up two runs on five hits, five walks, seven strikeouts with batters hitting .116 against and 54.3% of contact on the ground. He was using his changeup well, and his ERA after those first two starts equated to a 1.38 ERA and 4.22 FIP.

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His third start in Milwaukee was “meh” as he went six innings and surrendered four runs, including a Christian Yelich three-run shot. He entered Wednesday’s start with a 2.84 ERA, 4.15 FIP, 0.842 WHIP and 6.6 K/9 in the three starts. After the start against the Cardinals, the ERA went up to 4.76 on the year. In that first inning, batted balls in play off him were 92+ MPH. Quite the opposite of what he did in his start against the Royals a few weeks ago in terms of contact against.

While Mills is 28, he made only his 10th career MLB start Wednesday, and he has been more good than bad overall. He is not going to blow smoke by hitters as he sports a fastball that tops high-80s/low 90s, using off-speed and sinking stuff to get outs. Some of his changeups have been very Kyle Hendricks-like, and when he has it working, it’s a thing of beauty.

With Jose Quintana’s return on the horizon, is Mills destined for the bullpen? While the overall results have been more good than bad, it is fair to wonder if a guy who does not have that much experience can maintain a starter spot. Twelve hits in the last two starts, and the contact seemingly getting harder and harder can raise a few eyebrows.

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It is possible Mills can rebound and be just fine, but if things continue to trend down, a move to the pen could be in order if Quintana and Chatwood are both back and healthy. Mills is a guy who is very easy to root for, and he has been very impressive at times. For his sake and the Cubs, it is hopeful that it was just a terrible start, and everything gets back on track. The Cubs MLB-ready pitching depth is pretty thin as it is, and his success is essential to the club.