The Cubs are calling up righty Tyson Miller to make his Major League debut, manager David Ross announced to reporters today (Twitter link via Gordon Wittenmyer of NBC Sports Chicago). He’ll start the second game of tonight’s doubleheader against the Cardinals. That assignment could’ve gone to righty Adbert Alzolay, but he took a ball off his forearm in a recent intrasquad game, it seems. Thankfully, Alzolay escaped with just a bruise, but he’s not yet ready to take the hill for the Cubs.
Miller, 25, was Chicago’s fourth-round pick back in 2016 and has been considered to be among the better prospects in a thin Cubs system for the past couple seasons. He breezed through Double-A in 2019, pitching to a 2.56 ERA with 80 strikeouts against just 16 walks in 88 innings before being promoted to Triple-A. Things didn’t go well in the Pacific Coast League for Miller — that’s true for most pitchers — as he was ambushed for a 7.58 ERA in 48 2/3 frames. Miller was blown up for 13 long balls in that short time after surrendering just six in his 88 Double-A innings. Some of that is surely attributable to better opponents, but the Triple-A leagues used the same ball that produced MLB’s home run boom last season. (The lower minor league levels did not.)
Baseball America credits Miller with the best control of any pitching prospect in the Cubs’ system, labeling him as a potential back-end starter. He ranks 14th in the system per BA and 25th over at MLB.com. Improvements to his changeup and an added curveball helped to drive his success at Double-A last year, per BA.
Today’s outing figures to be a spot start for Miller, who is serving as the Cubs’ 29th man. He’ll be sent back to the alternate site following the outing. However, this will also serve as Miller’s first audition for a longer-term look with the team. Each of Jon Lester, Jose Quintana and Tyler Chatwood will see the guaranteed portion of their contracts conclude at season’s end — Lester has a 2021 option — so there could be opportunity for Miller and other young arms in the near future.