CHICAGO – Counting Tuesday night, the pitcher has taken the mound for 25 games for the Cubs since joining the team in 2017.
He’s both started games and appeared in relief as he’s bounced his way from the minors to the majors. But there has been one opponent that he always tends to match up with during his still-young career: The Cincinnati Reds.
Tuesday night was his seventh appearance against the National League Central division rival since 2018. Mills made his first MLB start against the Reds on August 24 of that year, faced the team three times in 2019, and three times in this shortened 2020 season.
But none of those efforts was as good as the one he had on a rainy and unseasonably chilly night at Wrigley Field.
For the second time in a game in 2020, Mills didn’t allow a run, doing so over six innings against Cincinnati. He set the tone for the effort all around as the bullpen backed him up in a 3-0 Cubs’ win over the Reds to improve to 25-18 on the season.
It improved Mills’ personal record to 4-3 and dropped his ERA to 4.74 while also making up for sub-par efforts in his last two games. The first of those was against the Reds on August 29th, when he gave up three homers and four earned runs in a loss at Great American Ballpark.
Last Thursday, he surrendered four more earned runs in five innings in a 6-2 loss to the Pirates in Pittsburgh, but the narrative was much different on Tuesday.
Mills scattered four hits during his time in the contest and a runner never reached third base while he was in the contest. He did need 102 pitches to get the job done, but his six strikeouts were his second-highest total of the season compared to three walks.
Struggling recently offensively, the Cubs gave him just enough support in the early going. David Bote’s triple to right brought home a pair of runs, and a triple by Javier Baez brought in another to make it a three-run lead.
Mills, Duane Underwood Jr., Ryan Tepera, and Jeremy Jeffress all made it hold up. All three relievers went scoreless in their inning with only one hit allowed in process, giving the team their fourth shutout win of the year.
Two of those efforts belong to Mills – who also shutout the Royals on August 2nd in Kansas City. Tuesday’s performance had a familiar feel against a common opponent.