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Cubs Alec Mills no-hits Brewers

An unlikely hero was added to the history books Sunday afternoon when Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Alec Mills delivered the 16th no-hitter in franchise history. He achieved this feat of baseball immortality against the division-rival Milwaukee Brewers, in Miller Park.

An unlikely hero was added to the history books Sunday afternoon when Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Alec Mills delivered the 16th no-hitter in franchise history. He achieved this feat of baseball immortality against the division-rival Milwaukee Brewers, in Miller Park.  

On the other side of the city, Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Lucas Giolito threw this season’s only other no-hitter on August 25th against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Giiolito made for a more predictable candidate to accomplish something like this. The former first round pick was a top prospect for most of his minor league career before struggling in the majors in 2018 and being an ace ever since.

Alec Mills was hardly a blue-chip prospect. The spectacled now 28-year-old pitcher was a 22nd round draft pick out of the University of Tennessee Martin. In college, he joined the team as a walk on. Mills, much like teammate Kyle Hendricks, throws below 90 mph with his fastball, instead relying on control and movement to get hitters out. He’s a guy who tries to work the corners and generate weak contact, but not necessarily a lot of strikeouts.

Prior to Sunday’s start, Mills had only recorded 101 career innings in the majors. He’s struggled to find his footing as a starter for the Kansas City Royals before ultimately being traded to the Cubs where he was at first used as a spot starter. This season, Mills has been a regular fixture in the Cubs rotation. He actually ranks third on the team with 52 and two thirds innings pitched.

In Sunday’s no-hitter, Mills struck out five Brewers, while surrendering three walks. The Brewers put the ball in play often, but the defense behind Mills was sound. This start of course comes on the heels of Tuesday’s six scoreless inning win for Mills. Together these two starts were more than enough to earn NL player of the week honors for the Cubs pitcher.

Entering Monday’s off day, the Cubs sit at 28-20, and four games ahead of the St Louis Cardinals for first place in the NL Central. If Mills can continue this stretch of dominance for another outing or two, it could be huge for Chicago, especially considering Mills will next take the mound against the slugging Minnesota Twins.

During Sunday’s no-hitter, Mills held Brewers hitters to 0 for 11 on balls classified as “hard-hit” by MLB’s Statcast database. According to ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers, the chances of that outcome happening were about 0.07%. While not uncommon to a no-hitter, this element of luck underscores the suspicion that Mills may not be an ace all of a sudden. For all his brilliance Sunday, his season ERA just only dipped below 4.00 after the shutout.

The good news is Chicago doesn’t need Alec Mills to be a no-hit stuff kind of guy. It certainly doesn’t hurt to have that, but he is only the fourth or fifth starter. Chicago and first year manager David Ross just need Mills to be reliable at the back end of the rotation, which he certainly has been and then some, as of late. Reports indicate that Jose Quintana and Tyler Chatwood may be nearing returns from the IL to provide more depth at the end of the rotation.

Regardless of what Alec Mills from this point forward, he will forever be remembered for what he accomplished in Milwaukee Sunday afternoon. 2020 has been a strange year to put it lightly, but if nothing else, this year has shown us that unlikely heroes can rise from anywhere. Alec Mills was an exclamation point to this trend, and a much needed one. With Mills’ no-hitter, the Cubs end the week with two hard fought road series wins at the Brewers and the Reds. 12 games now remain for the Cubs, but the second place Cardinals have 20 games left to try and erase their four-game deficit. For now, welcome to the history books, Alec.

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