Cubs rotation could get Alec Mills, Wade Miley back soon
By Jake Misener
After a four-game weekend series that saw the Cubs blank the Pirates 21-0 on Saturday, only to drop the other three matchups at Wrigley, David Ross’ club will head to Atlanta on Monday to open a three-game set against the reigning World Series champion Braves Tuesday night.
The rotation won’t get reinforcements for that series – or likely at all this week – but right-hander Alec Mills and veteran southpaw Wade Miley are both on track to rejoin the team in the coming weeks, giving the staff a badly-needed shot in the arm as the first month of the season winds down.
Justin Steele turned in a second straight clunker, needing 79 pitches while battling command issues, in the series finale Sunday. Marcus Stroman has been less-than-stellar in two of his three starts in a Cubs uniform and even Kyle Hendricks, who gave the Cubs their first and only quality start of the year in that blowout win this weekend, isn’t settled in consistently just yet.
Turning to guys like Mark Leiter isn’t a viable long-term solution, although at least Drew Smyly has been a pleasant surprise in his three April outings. All this to say the arms still aren’t stretched out as much as you’d like (Chicago starters rank 21st in the league in innings pitched entering Monday) and haven’t been all that effective, either (26th in MLB with a 5.60 ERA).
The fresh blood, at this point, is necessary.
Mills already has a rehab outing with Triple-A Iowa under his belt, with another one likely taking place late this week. Assuming all goes well, he’ll be ready to join the big league club, presumably as a starter.
As for Miley, he’s a bit more behind Mills, but threw a 50-pitch bullpen on Saturday and will toss live BP this week. From there, a rehab assignment is likely, and then he’d also be ready to be folded into the mix in Chicago.
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If this team wants to stay even on the fringes of the postseason picture here in the first month or two of the season, the starting pitching has to get better. Hopefully, as arms stretch out more and build up strength, we’ll see more consistent results – because, to this point, it’s been all over the place for the Cubs.