The Cubs are placing right-hander Alec Mills on the 10-day injured list with a lower back strain, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com was among those to pass along (Twitter link). Fellow righty Tommy Nance was selected to the 40-man roster in a corresponding move.
Mills was a key member of the Chicago rotation last season, starting eleven games and finishing third on the team in innings pitched (62 1/3). On the whole, he wasn’t particularly effective in that role (September no-hitter notwithstanding), working to a 4.48 ERA/4.81 SIERA. The offseason acquisitions of Jake Arrieta and Trevor Williams bumped Mills to a long relief role early this season. Through 22 2/3 innings, the sinkerballer has managed just a 5.96 ERA with a very low 12.7% strikeout rate. Mills has continued to throw strikes and induce plenty of grounders, but he doesn’t miss many bats and has proven susceptible to homers when opposing hitters have managed to elevate the ball.
With Mills out of action, Nance is in line to make his major league debut. The 30-year-old signed with Chicago out of indy ball in 2016 after going undrafted out of Santa Clara University. Given that non-traditional background, it’s no surprise he’s never appeared on a Cubs’ organizational prospects ranking at Baseball America or FanGraphs. Nance has been quietly productive all the way up the minor league ladder, though, working to a 3.33 ERA with decent strikeout and walk rates (25.7% and 9.5%, respectively) over 113 2/3 professional innings. Nance has pitched six stellar innings of one-run ball at Triple-A Iowa this season, strikeout out ten while allowing just one hit (a homer) and a walk.