The Cubs have their first second half fill-in starter for the Cole Hamels spot in the rotation: it’s AAA Iowa righty Alec Mills.
Coming out of the MLB and AAA All-Star breaks, it’s pretty clear the Cubs structured the rotations for this to line up, and I like it. Although the Cubs *could* keep Mills up if he pitches very well, what this also allows them to do is call him up for a day to pitch, and then option him back right away. In that way, the Cubs would essentially get to carry an extra reliever for nine days.
But, let’s be more optimistic and note that Mills has long looked like a just-about-MLB-ready arm. His infrequent appearances at the big league level with the Cubs in 2018 were fairly impressive, and if he’d been healthy to open this season, he might’ve gotten a look before now.
Mills, 27, sports a 4.73 ERA at AAA Iowa right now through 80.0 innings, which doesn’t knock your socks off, even if it is better than league average. More notably, though, he’s dominated since May 30, notching a mere 2.72 ERA over his last 49.2 innings (22.5% K rate, 6.8% BB rate), and features a passable set of big league pitches. With a couple other long arms in the bullpen – Tyler Chatwood and Mike Montgomery – the Cubs may not need Mills to go more than a few innings. At most, you figure he’ll get two times through the order if he’s looking good.