17 stats, facts from Mills' stunning no-hitter

September 13th, 2020

History has a weird way of repeating itself, and that was definitely the case Sunday in Milwaukee.

Right-hander spun the 16th no-hitter in Cubs franchise history, shutting down the rival Brewers as part of a 12-0 blowout. It was only the second no-no thrown at Miller Park, and it came just one day shy of 12 years after the first, a no-hitter also recorded by the Cubs. Except that game didn’t involve the Brewers; on Sept. 14, 2008, Carlos Zambrano no-hit the Astros in a game that was moved to Milwaukee from Houston as a neutral-site game because of Hurricane Ike.

Here are more facts and figures you should know about Mills’ career day:

Another one for Chicago

• This is the second no-hitter of 2020 -- and the second by a Chicago team, after Lucas Giolito of the White Sox no-hit the Pirates on Aug. 25. This is the first time the Cubs and White Sox have each thrown a no-hitter in the same season. The White Sox joined Major League Baseball at the American League’s inception in 1901.

• Jake Arrieta owned both of the Cubs’ last two no-hitters, tossing them within eight months of each other in 2015-16.

• The North Siders have won their last two no-hitters by a combined score of 28-0, as Arrieta’s second no-no against the Reds came as part of a 16-0 blowout. The Cubs also combined to outhit their opponents, 28-0, in those two games. Arrieta’s no-no had the second-largest run differential in any no-hitter, and the Cubs are now the only team in Major League history to win multiple no-hitters by 12 or more runs.

• The Cubs’ catcher for Arrieta’s second no-no? David Ross, now the team’s manager. Ross becomes the third skipper in the past two years to manage a no-hitter after previously catching one, joining Scott Servais and Brad Ausmus.

• This is the fourth straight Cubs no-hitter to be thrown on the road. The last time the team threw a no-hitter at Wrigley Field was Sept. 2, 1972, when Milt Pappas no-hit the Padres.

• This was only the fourth time the Brewers have been no-hit, and the first time since June 12, 2007, when former Tiger Justin Verlander twirled the first of his three career no-nos.

An unlikely candidate

• Where did Mills come from? The Royals selected him in the 22nd round of the 2012 Draft out of the University of Tennessee at Martin, with the 673rd overall pick. Mills is the first player to make the Major Leagues out of UT-Martin.

• The Cubs acquired Mills from the Royals on Feb. 8, 2017, in exchange for outfielder Donnie Dewees, who has yet to make the Majors. Mills, meanwhile, had a long road to the game’s highest level. The righty has 649 Minor League innings under his belt, having pitched there in each season from 2012-19.

• This was only Mills’ 15th Major League start, and he’d only completed six innings in six of those, with a career high of seven -- on Aug. 3 and Aug. 24 this year. That’s the third-fewest starts to a pitcher’s first career no-hitter in Cubs history, behind Burt Hooton in 1972 (fourth start) and Sam Jones in 1955 (12th start), according to Elias.

• Mills finished his no-hitter just moments before one of the game’s greatest titans, Albert Pujols, tied Willie Mays on the all-time home run list with career blast No. 660. Though Pujols’ achievement technically came after Mills, “The Machine” seems to have a knack for saving his milestones for big days in baseball.

• It had been nearly 100 years since anyone threw a no-hitter on this date. Previously, Dazzy Vance threw one for the Dodgers against the Phillies on this date in 1925, and Hugh Daily threw one for the Cleveland Blues on Sept. 13, 1883, against the Philadelphia Quakers.

How Mills got the job done

• Mills came in averaging 90.1 mph with his fastball, tied for the 16th-lowest of the 122 starters who had thrown at least 200 fastballs in 2020. On Sunday, Mills’ four-seam fastball averaged just less than 90 mph, but it was plenty enough against Milwaukee.

• Piling up strikeouts is one way to throw a no-hitter, but that wasn’t Mills’ style. His five strikeouts were the fewest in a no-no since the Marlins’ Henderson Alvarez notched four K’s against the Tigers on Sept. 29, 2013.

• Mills didn’t miss many bats, recording only five swinging strikes on 114 pitches. According to STATS, that ties Oakland’s Dallas Braden (from his 2010 perfect game) for the fewest whiffs in a no-hitter since 1988, as far back as pitch data is available. Yet Mills made up for that by getting 26 called strikes, the most by a Cubs pitcher in a game this season.

• The Brewers managed just three batted balls with an expected batting average above .500. Their only barreled ball was by Jedd Gyorko on a lineout to the center-field warning track in the second inning. Gyorko struck the ball with a 102.1 mph exit velocity.

• That said, the Brewers did have 11 hard-hit balls, defined as having an exit velocity of 95 mph or harder. Obviously, none of those turned into base hits. The MLB-wide batting average this season on hard-hit balls is .513.