The Rundown: Alec Mills 2020 Report Card, Lester Tips Well, 6 Players Receive Qualifying Offers, Mets Could Be Biggest Spenders This Winter
Alec Mills no-hit the Brewers on September 13, generating just five swinging strikes in the effort. That tied him with Dallas Braden, who tossed a perfect game in 2010, for the fewest in a no-hitter since Stats, LLC started tracking such data in 1988. It was the 16th no-no in Cubs franchise history and, though 28-year-old soft tosser seemed like the unlikeliest candidate to hold a team hitless, he deftly mixed speeds and changed locations to keep Milwaukee batters at bay in his 114-pitch gem.
27 outs. 0 hits. Alec Mills tossed the second no-no of 2020.
(MLB x @budweiserusa) pic.twitter.com/5lTq3eWKcF
— MLB (@MLB) September 14, 2020
Mills came to camp with just a small chance of joining the rotation, but by the end of the season solidified his role as a 4/5 starter. Injuries to Tyler Chatwood and José Quintana gave him an opportunity and he ended up being one of Chicago’s better starters.
The historic performance against the Brewers can be chalked up to Mills’ knowledge of his opposition, as he used a combination of high fastballs and offspeed stuff to induce a lot of weak contact, sort of like mentor Kyle Hendricks. Mills relies on below-average velocity, but he has yet to master the ability to consistently control his secondary offerings as well as The Professor.
Mills had his share of pedestrian performances, too. Every now and then he’d get pulled before facing an opponents’ lineup for a third time. In fact, he pitched five innings or less in four of his 11 starts, surrendering four or more runs in each of those contests. That inconsistency led to a league average ERA+ and Mills was a little lucky too, finishing the season with a 5.44 FIP across 62.1 innings of work.
The overall body of work was better than expected since he was forced into a role he had not been expecting. With the departures of Chatwood, Quintana, and possibly Jon Lester, Mills should enter 2021 with a guaranteed slot in Chicago’s rotation.
- Final Stats: 62.1 IP, 46/19 K/BB, 4.48 ERA, 5.44 FIP, 100 ERA+ , 0.2 fWAR, One No-Hitter
- Final Grade: C+
Cubs News & Notes
- As expected, the Cubs picked up the $16.5 million 2021 option on first baseman Anthony Rizzo over the weekend.
- Daniel Descalso had a less fortunate exit interview as the front office declined his 2021 option.
- On Friday, Lester offered to buy Cubs fans a beer at four local bars. His tab came to approximately $25,000 dollars.
- As if the veteran pitcher hasn’t done enough to thank Chicago, he reportedly left a 34% tip on each tab. Lester wears number 34, by the way.
- It’s still possible that the Cubs and Lester will work out some type of arrangement to allow the big lefty to play at least one more year in Chicago.
- Rumors continue that Tommy La Stella could be headed back to the Cubs in free agency, though I have my doubts.
- Due to a positive COVID-19 test, the organization has temporarily shut down instructs in Arizona.
- As Cubs fans, we all know the significance of November 2, right?
Odds & Sods
Has it really been four years since Dexter Fowler started Game 7 off with a bang? You go, we go, Dex, all the way to a World Series title.
A complete list of players who have homered leading off Game 7 of the World Series:@DexterFowler pic.twitter.com/Iq2R4qX5RU
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 1, 2020
This MLB offseason will be dark and full of terror.
The Rays declined their $15 million option on starter Charlie Morton, but hope to explore “creative ways” to bring the veteran back.
Astros outfielder George Springer, Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto, Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu, Reds starter Trevor Bauer, Mets starter Marcus Stroman, and Giants starter Kevin Gausman have all received the $18.9 million qualifying offer from their respective organizations.
The Giants clearly liked what Gausman gives their rotation, as his QO seemed a bit surprising.
Second-tier free agents might have a tough time this winter, with many expected to end up signing under value.
Cardinals veterans Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina could sign with another team as part of a package deal. The St.Louis free agents might be an option for the Braves.
The Angels are among the teams interested in St.Louis free agent second baseman Kolten Wong.
Giancarlo Stanton has decided to keep the remaining $218 million and seven guaranteed years on his Yankees contract, rather than opt out after a pair of injury-decimated seasons.
It appears that veteran Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia is going to announce his retirement. The 37-year-old veteran has been plagued by injuries since 2018, and has registered just 34 at-bts over the past three seasons.
The White Sox hiring of Tony La Russa to manage the team has left more than a few Sox fans perplexed.
The Mets look like they are going to be big spenders this winter.
Jimmy Kimmel asked some of the Dodgers players if winning the World Series is easier when their opponents aren’t cheating.
I’m sure almost all of you have seen the movie A League of Their Own, and this weekend I will be interviewing Ellie Weingardt for a piece here at Cubs Insider. Ellie played the etiquette coach to perfection. It’s hard to believe the iconic movie is 28 years old already.
Sliding Into Home
I will be absent tomorrow as I have been hired to work at my local polling place and have to report at 5am. Should be quite an interesting day. A lot of local businesses are boarding up in anticipation of the result, though I don’t think a winner will be determined until Pennsylvania finishes counting its ballots on Friday. I hope you have registered to vote.
Also, don’t forget to check out my work over at Bears Insider. I’m finally getting the hang of football writing.
Former Cubs outfielder Sam Fuld is being mentioned as a possible manager for the Red Sox, but I’d bet Boston chooses Alex Cora. Chicago third base coach Will Venable interviewed for the position last week but is not mentioned as a finalist. It’s a little surprising to me that Astros’ bench coach Joe Espada, who was a media favorite for managerial openings last winter, including with the Red Sox, hasn’t been mentioned at all this year.
Sources suggest these are the likely finalists for the Red Sox managing job: Sam Fuld, James Rowson, Don Kelly, Carlos Mendoza and Alex Cora.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 1, 2020
They Said It
- “”It’s been a fun ride, and hopefully the ride’s not over. I know there is some doubt as far as the money that’s [available] but I would like to think we can definitely get this [contract with the Cubs] done. Obviously, I want to finish my career [here]. I’ve been part of, for an extended period of time, two unbelievable organizations — historic organizations. I don’t want to wear another uniform for just a year, maybe two. I’d like to walk off that field in a Cubs uniform, and especially in front of the fans. That’s a big thing for me.” – Jon Lester
Monday Walk Up Song
Home by Phillip Phillips – Here’s hoping that Lester and the Cubs find a way to keep the lefty in Chicago.