Alec Mills No-Hitter
Right-hander Alec Mills went from a college walk-on at the University of Tennessee-Martin, to throwing a No-Hitter in the Major Leagues. Mills tossed the second no-hitter of the 2020 season after dominating the Milwaukee Brewers lineup in a 12-0 victory. Making his 15th start in three years at the Major League level, Mills finished with five strikeouts and three walks in a 114 pitch effort. On top of that, the right-hander only had five swinging strikes in his historic nine innings which ties Dallas Braden for the fewest in a no-hitter.
The city of Chicago owns the only two double hitters in the 2020 MLB season: White Sox’ Lucas Giolito and now, Alec Mills. Mills enscripts his name among Cubs’ legends Jake Arrieta, Carlos Zambrano, Ken Holtzman and others in Chicago no-hitters.
As of Saturday Sept. 19, four total teams have clinched their spots in the 2020 postseason. The lone team in the National League, the Los Angeles Dodgers, led by stars Mookie Betts and Clayton Kershaw have locked their spot in October. Holding a league-best 36-15 record, the Dodgers have no signs of slowing down. With a +108 run differential, L.A’s offense has been on another planet. An offense driven by Betts, who is holding a .301 AVG with 58 hits and 36 RBIs, and Corey Seager, who has a .304 AVG with 36 hits and 36 RBIs, are among the league’s best hitters. Outfielder AJ Pollock and Shortstop Chris Taylor also have been impact bats for the Dodgers. A rotation led by All-Stars Clayton Kershaw and Walker Beuhler have not fallen short of expectations. Two of the league’s top arms are must-watch television when on the mound. Rising star Dustin May and left-hander Julio Urias also have been exceptional this season.
In the American League, the Tampa Bay Rays along with the Chicago White Sox and Oakland Athletics have also clinched their spots in the October dance.
Tampa Bay, currently 33-18, are on their way to back-to-back postseason appearances. A lineup consisting of dark horse MVP Brandon Lowe, Austin Meadows, Willy Adames and Yandy Diaz have been dominating opposing pitchers. A team Slugging Percentage of .433 places them top-10 in all of baseball. Tampa Bay’s pitching staff is equipped with what many may call a “three-headed monster” in Tyler Glasnow, Charlie Morton and Blake Snell. In 51.1 IP, Glasnow has a 3-1 record on 83 strikeouts and a 4.21 ERA. Morton, a lefty, has made seven appearances this season and holds 28 strikeouts on two walks. The former Cy Young Blake Snell is 4-1 in his 2020 campaign. In 44.1 IP, Snell has sat down 54 on 15 walks and brings a 3.05 ERA to the table. Other impact arms down the stretch for Tampa can be from Nick Anderson, Diego Castillo and Ryan Thompson. Don’t bet against manager Kevin Cash, as he always has a plan up his sleeve.
For the first time since 2008, the Chicago White Sox are back in the postseason. This White Sox ball club might be the most well-rounded in the American League. From at the plate, on the mound and in the field, the South Side of Chicago has it all. MVP candidate Jose Abreu leads the young and energetic core with 68 hits and a .327 Batting Average. Don’t be surprised if he outlasts Mike Trout for the AL MVP award. Shortstop Tim Anderson, the heart and soul of the team, also leads the offense with an impressive 62 hits, 41 runs with a .365 Batting Average. An outfield core of Eloy Jiménez, Luis Robert and Nomar Mazara is one of the strongest in the league. Jiménez, the favorite to win AL Rookie of the Year, has 57 hits, 39 RBIs and a .300 Batting Average. With an OPS north of .900, the future left-fielder has a sky-high ceiling. Designated Hitter Edwin Encarnación also has been producing strong numbers at the dish. Everyday catcher Yasmani Grandal provides a high IQ when in the field, and at the plate. With 28 walks and 22 RBIs in 40 games, Grandal provides a strong everyday presence. The arms on the mound practically exceed the ones at the dish. A rotation consisting of ace Lucas Giolito, top prospect Dylan Cease and veteran Dallas Keuchel can’t get much better. All three arms hold ERAs under 3.55 and have 4+ wins each. Holding a team ERA of 3.53, this places third lowest in all of baseball. Manager Rick Hahn has utilized his go-to bullpen arm Alex Colomé a plethora of times this season and as a result, the right-hander holds 12 saves in 13 opportunities. This is just the start of a dynasty for the Chicago White Sox. The future could not be brighter with a handful of top prospects and proven veterans in the lineup.
Rooted in Oakland. The Oakland Athletics, a potential sleeper pick to win the 2020 World Series, have clinched their postseason berth with a win against San Francisco. The A’s, led by a current 42-hit season from Marcus Semien, hold a .400 team Slugging Percentage. Besides Semien, production at the plate comes from Mark Canha, Ramon Laureano and Matt Olson. Olson, leading the team in home runs, runs and RBIs, provides a strong consistently at the top of the Oakland lineup. All-Star Matt Chapman has also been producing strong numbers with 25 RBIs and 33 hits in 37 games. On the mound, Oakland’s rotation holds Chris Bassitt, Mike Fiers and Sean Manaea. The pitching staff holds one of the league’s lowest ERAs with 3.59. Leading the league in saves in Liam Hendriks. Competing 13-of-14 saves, Hendriks brings a dominance like no other to the mound. The A’s have the pieces and it’s only a matter of time until they hoist the trophy.
New York Yankees first-baseman Luke Voit has certainly been hot of late. Since Sept 11., Voit is 10-for-28 with 16 RBIs and six home runs. The daily cleanup hitter in the Yankees lineup is the first to reach 20 home runs in Major League Baseball. A season Batting Average of .283 gives Voit strong confidence at the dish along with 50 total hits. Without the consistent and strong bat of Voit, the Yankees surely would not be in the playoff position they currently are in. The 29-21 New York staff looks to capture their 28th championship this October.
A player who dominates in the batter’s box, but often gets overlooked is Atlanta Braves first-baseman Freedie Freeman. The three time All-Star is putting up sensational numbers this year. Batting .359 (!) with 48 RBI and a 1.128 OPS, the Braves’ veteran should be at the forefront of the National League MVP conversation. Alongside the bats of Ronald Acuña Jr., and Dansby Swanson, the Atlanta Braves can always have an offensive breakout any game.
Pujols Passes Mays
661! Friday night in a 6-2 win against the Texas Rangers, slugger Albert Pujols connected on home run number 661 to pass Willie Mays on the all-time home run list. Hitting the sixth long shot of his 2020 campaign, places fourth on the all-time list. The lefty slugger is behind greats Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Alex Rodriguez (696) for first on the leaderboard.
Photo: USATSI / CBS Sports