At the end of December in 2011 the A’s made a trade that would impact their team for many years. They dealt a star in the present for potential stars in the future. As with any trade that deals with prospects there is some unknown and a major risk that goes along with that unknown. To see the prospects reach their potential a lot goes into teaching and mentoring them. Sometimes a player cannot reach their potential because they do not have a mentor who is similar to him. Pitching coaches and veterans are a good reference point, but there is something to be said about someone who is similar to you. This seems to be the case with one of the players the A’s received in that trade which sent Gio Gonzalez and a minor league relief pitcher to the Washington Nationals for four prospects.
Tommy Milone is a soft throwing left-handed pitcher. He uses an excellent changeup and pinpoint location to keep hitters off balance. Scouts raved about his location and how he limited walks. Milone sounded exactly like a pitcher who took The Town by storm for a couple of season, Dallas Braden. The only difference was their personalities. Braden was an exciting intense pitcher who used adrenaline to get out of jams, while Milone is more cerebral and quiet and lets things work out on their own.
This year Milone has struggled to find consistency. It seems he’ll have a great start followed by a rough one and this has repeated all season long. His record backs that sentiment, as he is 9-8 with a 4.10 ERA. His walks have increased this season by a noticeable amount. He will pass last years walk total with three more free passes. That is somewhat alarming for a pitcher who relies heavily on the location of his pitches. SIERA and FIP (both ERA statistics that are more accurate than ERA’s alone) suggest his ERA should actually be higher as they stand at 4.25 and 4.36 respectively. Again, that is another alarming statistic for Milone.
The reason why Milone is good enough to be a number three or four starter is because he does not allow enough base runners to make his mistakes more costly. Because his strike out rates are lower than most and his walks are higher than his average this season though his ERA and overall success will be lower. This is because he pitches to contact too much especially with runners on base. If he can return to the form he had last year, an ERA around 3.75, the A’s will have an interesting decision to make when Brett Anderson returns from the DL in a couple of weeks.
Tommy Milone has struggled this season and the A’s need him to rebound for the stretch run if they want to become a serious title contender. Without Dallas Braden in the fold to mentor him he will have to figure out how to work around his inconsistency with what he has. Good location and a good changeup. It starts there for Tommy Milone. His place in the rotation depends on it.