With Jose Quintana down, who’s up for Cubs? Alec Mills tops underwhelming list of candidates

Just in case the Cubs’ long-term problems with developing homegrown pitching weren’t obvious enough, now they’re facing a start to a season with Yu Darvish, Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester and … that pause is the whole point.

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Alec Mills, here last season with catcher Willson Contreras, is the top candidate to step in for injured Jose Quintana.

Alec Mills, here last season with catcher Willson Contreras, is the top candidate to step in for injured Jose Quintana.

Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

Just in case the Cubs’ long-term problems with developing homegrown pitching weren’t obvious enough, now they’re facing a start to a season with Yu Darvish, Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester and . . . that pause is the whole point.

Jose Quintana’s injured left thumb — who knew washing dishes was so dangerous? — is pointing out just how poorly the Theo Epstein regime has done at developing arms.

If Quintana is out of the rotation, who other than Darvish, Hendricks, Lester and, one would assume Tyler Chatwood, is in it? Epstein named three candidates, all right-handers:

1. Alec Mills

Acquired by the Cubs in 2018, the soft-tossing 28-year-old has spent time in the big leagues each of the last two years. Last season, he impressed over nine outings, four of them starts, with his control, his calm demeanor and his ability to eat innings.

Mills was expected to be a middle-innings guy — and a key one, given starters might not fully be stretched out early on. Epstein called him “well positioned to capitalize on this opportunity and establish himself as a starting pitcher in this league.”

2. Colin Rea

At 6-5, 235, he looks the part, and he has pitched himself into the big leagues before, a few years back with the Padres. Now 30, he went 14-4 with a 3.95 ERA at Class AAA Iowa in 2019 and was named the Pacific Coast League’s pitcher of the year. Rea is on the 40-man roster.

3. Adbert Alzolay

Also with some big-league experience, the 25-year-old is the club’s sixth-ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline. He was slated to begin workouts at the Cubs’ facility in South Bend, Indiana, though that could change.

“When he’s at his best, he’s most certainly ready to compete as a starter in this league,” Epstein said. “He’ll have an opportunity to show that he’s at the top of his game and fight for a role as well.”

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