Five Things to Know About Tommy Milone
Image courtesy of Kyle Terada, USA TODAY SportsUnderstandably, Milone asked for a trade after being bumped down to Triple-A with a 3.55 ERA in early July after the A's acquired Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel as part of their all-out World Series push. He has been sent to Rochester initially but is likely to be up in a Twins uniform soon.
What can we expect from the new acquisition? Here are five facts that will help you familiarize yourself.
1) He doesn't throw hard but can get some strikeouts
Over the course of his career, Milone's fastball has averaged 87 MPH, and he's been right around that mark on a consistent basis. For comparison, Andrew Albers last year averaged 86 MPH with the heater.
As a big-leaguer, Milone has averaged 6.5 strikeouts per nine innings, which is below average but still a step above many of the soft-tossing, pitch-to-contact hurlers who have populated Minnesota's rotation in recent years. His 7.3 K/9 rate in 2013 would have led all Twins starters.
2) He's an extreme fly ball pitcher
There are only a dozen pitchers in baseball with a fly ball rate above 40 percent right now; Milone's career rate is 41 percent. His grounder rate consistently ranks among the lowest in baseball. This isn't necessarily a terrible thing -- there are plenty of successful fly ball pitchers -- but it means he'll give up his fair share of homers, and puts added emphasis on the necessity of a quality defensive outfield. It also plays into this next fact:
3) His success has been largely dependent on his home park
With its spacious foul territory and favorable dimensions, Oakland's o.Co Coliseum is among the most pitcher-friendly ballparks in baseball. Unsurprisingly, Milone has thrived in that yard, where he owns a 2.96 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in his career. In all other stadiums, he has a 4.59 ERA and 1.36 WHIP. He will no longer have the luxury of pitching his home games in Oakland, but fortunately, Target Field is also considered a workable environment for fly ball pitchers.
4) He's better against righties than lefties
As a southpaw who hits his spots and lacks great velocity, you'd think Milone might be particularly vulnerable to lineups stacked with right-handed hitters (think Brian Duensing), but that's not actually the case. Milone leans heavily on a strong changeup that helps neutralize opposite-sided hitters, and in his career he has actually held righties to a lower OPS (.719) than lefties (.775).
5) He's under team control for at least three more years.
This is the main reason I was surprised that the A's couldn't get back more than Sam Fuld. Assuming he comes up soon enough to hit Super 2 status, Milone will be arbitration eligible for the first time in 2015. From there, the Twins can go year-to-year for three seasons. If he implodes, he can be non-tendered. If he succeeds, he can be brought back on affordable one-year deals through 2017, or the Twins can seek an extension at some point. That's a good situation to be in with a young pitcher.
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