The Cubs need Adbert Alzolay and Alec Mills to step up and round out the 2021 rotation.
The Chicago Cubs’ Adbert Alzolay and Alec Mills are crucial to the 2021 rotation.–it can’t happen without them. Kyle Hendricks and Yu Darvish are not free agents until 2024. Jon Lester is a wild card, and he says he’s home–whatever that means. But we need the two to step up production if they want to be here.
Alzolay and Mills finished .500 on the year. Alzolay was 1-1 with an impressive 2.95 ERA in 21 1/3 innings pitched. He bumped up the SO/9 from 9.5 to 12.2, and he dazzled with a 1.172 WHIP. He lowered his HR/FB rate from 25.0% in 2019 to 7.7% for 2020. He also developed a slider at the alternate camp. What are you supposed to do at the alternate site? You work on pitches, that’s what. And it was awesome.
The Cubs’ Mills was much more impressive last year, although he did have a no-hitter in 2020. His numbers synced up with 2018, although the strikeouts were down (10.5 to 6.6). Still, the numbers were good, if not better than in 2018. And he had a few ‘bombs’ that skewed his numbers. If he can get it back to ’18, he’d be back in business (Four allowed in one start in 2018, Four or more in six starts in 2020). Not that bad from getting him from the Kansas City Royals.
Theo Epstein was proud of both his pitchers, and he said so at his end-of-the-year press conference.
"“We were really pleased this year with the progress of Alec Mills and Adbert Alzolay,” Epstein said, “Both guys took steps forward this year.” h/t Andy Martinez, Marquee Sports Network"
With Mills and Alzolay working on getting better for 2021 and Darvish and Hendricks set–it’s going to be a good time for ’21. Now to figure out who is the final starter. Maybe Trevor Bauer? But a one-year deal could be ‘bad’ for him because it’d scare off the competition.
My ‘pick’ is James Paxton. A knee and back have inhibited from producing for the New York Yankees. And the left forearm flexor strain he’s dealing with has been difficult. Still, a one-year deal with options maybe could be a good deal for him.
Alzolay and Mills can be significant for the Cubs. Granted, it’s Hendricks and Darvish that will need to be the key. If they’re bad, they need to feel the need to step up the game–and that’s not good.