Cubs will need Alec Mills – but his final role remains to be seen

(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

Alec Mills had a 2020 that he will never forget. He was the sixteenth pitcher in franchise history to toss a no-hitter, accomplishing the feat on September 13 against the Milwaukee Brewers. It’s safe to say no one will soon forget everything 2020 brought, but Mills at least has that amazing moment.

The Chicago Cubs will have a new-look starting rotation heading into 2021. We saw Yu Darvish traded to the Padres, Jon Lester sign with the Washington Nationals and Jose Quintana rejoin Joe Maddon with the Angels. The Cubs have found guys to replace them but now there will be a battle to see who is in the rotation and who gets a spot in the bullpen.

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There is no doubt Kyle Hendricks is the Cubs’ ace now. He will be the guy the Cubs lean on when they need a win. In the Darvish trade, Chicago got Zack Davies who already has his spot in the rotation. They also signed Jake Arrieta, who fans all know very well. We most likely won’t see 2015 Arrieta but it’s nice to have him back. The Cubs also signed Trevor Williams from the Pirates and he’ll get a role in the starting five to open the year.

That leaves one spot left for two main guys. Mills and fellow right-hander Adbert Alzolay will be the guys competing for the fifth and final spot. The decision will be made by manager David Ross this spring. He will see how each guy looks and make his decision before Opening Day.

Cubs: Alec Mills will play a big role in 2021

Mills knows that it will take more than just the five guys that start the season in the rotation to finish the season.

"“It’s going to take a whole lot more than five starters to get through this season,” Mills said. “To jump from 60 to 162 [games] is a lot of innings to jump. It’s just something that we’re going to have to kind of tackle as it happens.”"

Mills started 11 games in 2020 and posted a 4.48 ERA. He will be looking for a bounceback season in 2021. He wasn’t the only pitcher to suffer an inflated ERA last year with diminished workloads. One bad start was enough to wreak havoc on a guy’s numbers.

If Mills doesn’t get the nod for the starting rotation he will still play a big role for the Cubs in the bullpen. He most likely would be the swing man, capable of pitching multiple innings out of the pen to help save the rest of the bullpen. That role can play a big role throughout a 162 game season.

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Whether it’s in the fifth spot in the rotation or out of the bullpen, expect Alec Mills to play a big role  for the team during the 2021 season.