Tommy Milone Optioned to Sacramento
In a somewhat unexpected move Tommy Milone was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento today. Even though his last outing last night was a miserable loss to Texas where he only went three and two-thirds innings allowing six earned runs on nine hits including two homers for a garish in-game FIP of 9.86, few expected this move. That said, this move is at least being explained as the A’s not needing a fifth starter until the 13th of this month, so it is being described at least similarly to the Dan Straily demotion over the All Star break. The intrigue however with this move is that Brett Anderson is expected back, potentially not far off from that August 13th date, and furthermore perhaps Sonny Gray steals that roster spot from Milone come the 13th.
Milone has made 22 starts this season for Oakland and has been a bore to watch with 6.8 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 and a pretty high 1.5 HR/9 for a 4.47 FIP which closely mirrors his underwhelming 4.39 ERA. He has been worth 0.9 as hitters have managed a .284 BABIP off the soft-tossing lefty in his 133 1/3 innings. Milone’s M.O. is that of a control specialist and he has done just that. Just like last year he has depended heavily on pitching in the friendly confines of O.Co Coliseum though strangely his ERA at home is 3.67 (compared to 5.00 away from Oakland) but the peripherals are awful particularly his 1.9 HR/9 giving him a 5.16 FIP at home. Meanwhile on the road, his 5.00 ERA is paired with a 3.89 FIP. For whatever reason his strand rate at home is 85.7% whereas on the road it is a measly 62.7% accounting for the majority of the difference (though at home he also does a bit better with BABIP at .270 to the road where it is .295). Regardless, Milone spinning his craft is not particularly entertaining baseball, and while baseball is meant for entertainment and Gray might be the more entertaining to watch, the question is who is better and that is debatable.
In his short time with Oakland, Gray didn’t do anything to create any nay-sayers with two two-inning outings where he walked one, K’d six and allowed just two hits. Through his start today, Gray has thrown 118 1/3 innings at Sacramento, with a 3.42 ERA and 2.74 FIP with 9.0 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 and 0.4 HR/9 with Sacramento. That is despite the Pacific Coast League and their sky-high accompanying BABIP which for Gray stands at .337. Can he out perform Milone? We will see because I expect he will earn the start when the fifth slot comes up again and feel that Anderson is best used in the pen to preserve his fragile health for the remainder of 2013.