In portions of five seasons for the Chicago Cubs, Alec Mills made 66 appearances (39 starts). He posted a 4.84 ERA and 1.320 WHIP and struck out 209 in 253 innings. All of that was worth a grand total of 0.3 bWAR, so essentially Mills was a replacement level pitcher. He was outrighted to Triple-A Iowa Thursday and elected free agency.
So why am I writing this article?
“The college walk-on has made history!” said Len Kasper, and that indeed was quite an accomplishment. Yes, it was “only” in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, but a no-hitter is a no-hitter and it was over a team that had a few decent hitters, too. There have been just 17 in Cubs franchise history and that game also is the last time any Cubs pitcher threw a nine-inning complete game. (Kyle Hendricks had a seven-inning CG in 2021.)
It’s certainly worth remembering, even if the rest of Mills’ career didn’t go so well.
Mills was acquired from the Royals for Donnie Dewees just before Spring Training began in 2017. (Dewees was later reacquired from Kansas City.) Alec made his MLB debut the following year with a two-inning scoreless relief outing against the Cardinals in July 2018 and a month later, was called on to make a start against the Reds at Wrigley Field.
It was an excellent start — 5⅓ innings, four hits, one run, eight strikeouts, and this from a guy who rarely broke 90 miles per hour. The Cubs won the game 3-2 and here’s one of his K’s that day, of Eugenio Suarez [VIDEO].
Mills had a good year in limited duty (62 innings) in 2019 and made 11 decent starts in 2020, including the no-hitter. Pressed into service in the regular rotation for a while in 2021, though, his ERA soared above 5 as he had several rough starts at the end of the season.
Then back issues kept him from making his 2022 debut until June. And though he made a few good outings early this past season, three straight appearances in which he allowed five runs hinted that maybe he wasn’t 100 percent healthy.
That turned out to be the case when he started against the Red Sox July 2 at Wrigley Field. Mills faced just two batters and threw only seven pitches before leaving with back trouble [VIDEO].
That was the last time he pitched. He was sent out for proposed rehab starts a couple of times but never took the mound.
Mills turns 31 later this month and it is possible his professional baseball career is over. Sure, some team might give him a minor-league deal to come to Spring Training, but it will be an uphill climb for him to return to the major leagues.
Still, a tip o’ the cap for a guy who went undrafted out of a school (Tennessee-Martin) that isn’t exactly a baseball hotbed, yet wound up signing a deal with a MLB team and making 69 total appearances in the major leagues (the aforementioned 66 with the Cubs and three with the Royals). Overall: 0.1 bWAR, which isn’t great, but there are a lot of guys with MLB dreams who don’t even get that far.
Mills certainly realized how lucky he was after he threw the no-no:
Now that the dust has settled, just wanted to thank everyone who helped me along this crazy journey. I’m not done yet, I’ve got even more dreams to achieve! pic.twitter.com/FYhNcFzgqZ— Alec Mills (@ATMills37) September 18, 2020
Thanks for the memories, Alec, especially the no-hitter, and all the best to you going forward.