Alec Mills’ role will increase now that Cubs lefty José Quintana is out for the foreseeable future following surgery to repair nerve damage in his left thumb. That means it’s time to strap it on and strap in for a steady dosage of super slow, heavy-breaking curveballs.
According to Statcast data, Mills’ average curveball velocity of 68.6 mph is slower than 99.8% of all MLB pitchers since 2018. He also throws with an unorthodox release point that sees him let go of the ball farther from first base than 98.6% of righty pitchers. What’s more, Mills lands with his left foot closed to a greater degree than probably any other pitcher in the game.
But what’s really interesting about Mills’ breaking ball is that it can actually be split into two pitch types. He has one faster curveball and one extremely slow, eephus-like pitch that he began to showcase last season.
Alec Mills newish 65 mph curveball.
I like to think of me as the batter, Mills as Monday morning and the ball as the alarm clock. pic.twitter.com/IG28JvXuIQ
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) July 8, 2019
It’s hard not to be curious and excited about what Mills can do with the Cubs’ reconstructed pitching development infrastructure. I’m imagining Tommy Hottovy and the rest of the pitching advisors salivating over that unique curveball and how it can work with a diverse pitch repertoire.
In addition to the benders and fastballs, Mills mixes in changeups (19%) and sliders (11%), too. The guy has the repertoire to make it as a big-league starter.
Quintana’s absence will absolutely hurt the Cubs’ pitching depth, there’s no doubt about that. But in a 60-game season in which each starting pitcher will likely get 10-12 starts, it’s possible they’ll be at least as good every fifth day. Thinking about that wacky curveball and solid previous performance, I wouldn’t be surprised if Mills puts up better numbers than what the computers projected for Quintana.