Alec Mills sent the sad Milwaukee Brewers into their clubhouse hitless due to, among other things, one simple adjustment. Well, it was really two adjustments to one pitch. In addition to throwing more fastballs, he was locating them up-and-in with greater frequency.
After throwing four-seam fastballs at a 25% rate for the early portion of the season, Mills has spiked his four-seamer usage in his last two starts. On September 8 against the Reds, it jumped to nearly 50%, then he continued to hammer the zone with four-seamers by throwing it at a 40% rate in Milwaukee.
Just like different colors of Skittles have their own flavor, you can taste the rainbow of the dot plot from the no-no below. It shows that red four-seamers toward the upper portion of the zone with orange sinkers populating the lower inside portion of the plate. Mills finished Brewers batters by throwing loopy blue curveballs, slurvy yellow sliders, and green sinking changeups.
Mills wasn’t just “showing” four-seamers, either. These fastballs were actually a huge reason why Milwaukee didn’t record a hit. Look at all the ugly swings Mills induced with his up-and-in heat.
Mills deserves tremendous credit for not only just throwing a no-hitter, but for implementing the adjustment to his pitching approach that led to it. Kudos should be given to Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy, and perhaps other staff members, for identifying the adjustment Mills needed to make.
Hottovy also encouraged José Quintana and Kyle Hendricks to attack the upper part of the zone with fastballs last season, so maybe he just has a thing for high heat. Regardless, it was a tremendous effort all around and one that will live forever in the history books.