Cole Hamels appears to be well on his way to a return later this month after completing a second throwing session Saturday in which he “really unleashed” from 105 feet. That’s a very good sign for the lefty, who could be throwing from the mound by the middle of next week.
Alec Mills will start for the Cubs on Tuesday. Hamels threw from flat ground again today, 105'. Apparently really unleashed. He'll throw again from flat ground possibly Monday and then a side session soon after that assuming all goes well.
— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) July 13, 2019
The Cubs are still going to need some help in the meantime, though, so they’ll be calling up Alec Mills to take the fifth spot in the rotation. Sorry, folks, no Adbert Alzolay or Tyler Chatwood. The latter was probably obvious, but Alzolay had looked good in two of his three appearances and has said the Cubs have plans for him in the second half.
Those plans could involve the bullpen, since Alzolay’s repertoire still consists of only three pitches and he could potentially be exposed by big league hitters. An eventual return to the rotation may still be in store, but having a healthy starting five means Alzolay is best suited for the ‘pen at this point.
Enter Alec Mills, the former Royals farmhand acquired by the Cubs in exchange for Donnie Dewees — who is back with the organization — prior to the 2017 season. If you recall, we told you recently that he could factor down the stretch. The 27-year-old made two starts for the Cubs last season and appeared in seven total games, posting a 4.00 ERA that looked much worse than his 2.49 FIP in that time.
Though Mills hasn’t looked great this season at Triple-A Iowa, he’s capable of missing a bat or three and his 6-2 record is an indication that he’s at least kept his team in most games. He’s given up at least four earned in four of his last 10 starts, but he’s allowed two or fewer in five more, so let’s pull for the latter.
Mainly a fastball/sinker/change guy, Mills mixes in a slider and curve to change eye level and get swinging strikes. The slider and change worked really well for him last season in Chicago and he’ll find success if he gets those going against a Reds team that hasn’t really hit all that well this season. And hey, it won’t matter if the Cubs’ bats stay hot.
Don’t expect a gem from Mills, but he’s got the chops to turn in a few solid innings and bridge the rotation through this turn until Hamels is ready to get back.