Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 12/23/11

One of the pitchers going from the Nationals to the Athletics in exchange for Gio Gonzalez is soft-tossing lefty Tom Milone.  Milone, who will be 25 in February, was a 10th round draft pick by the Nats in 2008 and has gotten by with excellent control (only 4.4% free passes throughout his MiLB career).  What might be turning some heads is that his strikeout rate, unspectacular in 2008 and 2009, has jumped up to one per inning over the past two seasons.  Considering that Milone got five starts in the big leagues last September, we can look at PITCHf/x data to get a feel for his repertoire.

Milone showed four pitches in his stint with the Nationals:

n mph Fastball 212  87.9 Changeup 90 79.4 Cutter 67 84.9 Curveball 33 74.2

Milone, whose four-seam fastball typically sits in the high-80s, has similar velocity to fellow lefty starters Ted Lilly, Chris Capuano, and Randy Wolf.  His cutter can blend in with the four-seamer both in terms of movement and velocity, but on average is 3 mph slower with ~4 more inches of cut and ~3.5 more inches of vertical sink.  His change is a fairly typical 8 mph off of his fastball and also gets 4 extra inches of movement away from a right-handed batter.  His curve doesn’t drop too much, generating only 3 inches of topspin.  (The biggest hooks in the majors – Barry Zito’s and Tim Collins’, for example – get over 10 inches.)

Milone’s MLB results from last season were solid, though do remember that we’re dealing with a one-month sample.  His trademark control was on display, as he only allowed four free passes in his 26 innings.  Of the 198 swings taken off of him, 35 resulted in swinging strikes.  That’s a rate of 17.7%, slightly under the league average for starters in 2011.  16 of the 35 whiffs came on his changeup, which looks like his preferred strikeout pitch.

His slow, fastball/changeup heavy repertoire seems conducive to a lot of fly balls, and that certainly was the case in September; his 89 pitches in play yielded only 26 grounders (29%).  Some cutters make for good groundball pitches, so that could be a way for him to keep hitters from teeing off on him.

With Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill traded and Brett Anderson on the shelf with an elbow injury, Milone might slot right into the Athletics’ rotation out of Spring Training.  His stuff isn’t impressive, but he has good control and pitcher-friendly Oakland Coliseum will provide him and his flyball tendencies with some security.

Pitch IDs are by the author. 

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