Find Giolito: Means, Duffy, Pivetta, & Mills

Last week I started a series on finding the potential Spring Training breakouts based on increased velocity and a possible new pitch. I planned on going in-depth on a couple of guys but found no game footage for Nick Pivetta, Danny Duffy, and John Means. Instead, I pivoted to Alec Mills.

Alec Mills


  • Fastball velo up 0.8 mph.
  • New two-seam grip.

Games watched

  • 2/26/20: 2 IP, Best game to watch. Good camera angle and pitch velos.
  • 3/7/20: 3.2 IP, Horrible camera angle.
  • 3/11/20: 1 IP


  • The righty comes right at hitters and lives in the strike zone.
  • He can throw everything for strikes except the slider.
  • The sinker has some wicked movement. The report from Spring Training said he was working on a new grip but the pitch looked that same as it did early and late last season.
  • His change has similar movement to his sinker and just eats batters up.
  • A velocity bump won’t make a ton of difference since he’s living in the high-80’s.


Sinker (i.e. Whiffle Ball)




Summary: He’s at least a Kyle Hendricks clone with a sub-90 mph fastball with several above-average non-fastballs. His change is near elite (26% SwStr%, 50% GB%) with the slider and the curve both posting a 15% SwStr%. The key for me is if can dump his four-seamer (7% Swtr%, 33% GB%) for the sinker (5% SwStr%, 62% GB%). The four-seam is too easy to square up especially compared to his sinker. Over his career, batters have posted a .262 vsISO on the four-seamer and just .095 vsISO against the sinker. Here in a list of results (fouls) from his sinker last season.

Besides dropping the four-seamer, he needs a starting job. He was fighting with Tyler Chatwood for the last starting rotation spot. Since he’s out of options, he’ll make the team. He’s not getting released but it could be in the bullpen.

Hendricks may actually be the downside. In 30 innings as a starter, Mills has a 3.23 ERA, 3.53 xFIP, and an 11.5 K/9. Those stats are close to what Lucas Giolito (3.41 ERA, 11.6 K/9) and Brandon Woodruff (3.62 ERA, 10.6 K/9) posted last season. Everyone wants a sleeper … here they go.

Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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NL Rules
NL Rules

It sounds like the Cubs are leaning towards Chatwood for the 5th spot (and he looked good this spring too) — but love the movement on Mills’ pitches, especially the whiffle sinker!

Cliff B
Cliff B

That sinker is some Bugs Bunny stuff.