Tommy Milone is a soft throwing lefty who has made 83 big league starts, owns a career ERA under 4.00 and has even pitched in the post-season. The Twins acquired Milone at the 2014 trade deadline from the Oakland Athletics for Sam Fuld, who coincidentally was selected off waivers by the Twins from the A's just three months before. Despite putting up the best numbers in his career, Milone was bumped out of the rotation in Oakland when the A's acquired Jeff Samardzija & Jason Hammel.
Considering the Twins
are were starved for pitching, it was expected that when Milone arrived in Minnesota's rotation he would run away with opportunity. But after a decent debut start for the Twins, things went south - really south. Milone finished the year making six appearances, five as a starter, with an ERA of 7.06 and WHIP of 2.21 in 21 innings pitched. Shoulder fatigue and a stiff-neck were injuries that Milone was suffering during his time.
Lighting up the radar gun is not something Milone brings to the table. Over the course of his career, Milone's fastball has averaged 87.3MPH. When Milone came to Minnesota, he stopped throwing his fastball. According to fangraphs, Milone threw his fastball just 41% of the time in Minnesota, compared to 50% for his career. He also started throwing his 2-seemer more consistently in 2014: he threw it 32% in 2014, where he threw it 8.8%, 6.0% the last two years respectively. That will make you wonder just how much his shoulder was bugging him even before he came to the Twins.
Knowing he can't blow people away, Milone generally stays around the plate and as a result had issued less than two walks per game before coming over to Minnesota. Still, despite throwing "softer" that doesn't mean he cant strike anyone out. Milone averaged 7.3 K/9 in 2013, which was roughly the league average rate. Not bad for a guy that tops out at 87.
It was an ugly for Milone and the Twins down the stretch, but the guy has gotten it done in his career. If the shoulder and neck issues are truly in the rear view mirror, he has a legit chance of winning the (most likely) only open spot in the rotation (especially as he's the only lefty available to start). He owns the lowest career ERA of any pitcher on the staff with a minimum of 80 starts, in spite of having pitched in spacious ballparks his entire career. He has been a good pitcher in nearly 500 career innings, despite not even be able to touch 90 mph on the radar gun.
New pitching coach Neil Allen has a chance to show Twins Territory the Tommy Milone that shined for Oakland. If he's healthy, he has potential to be the same guy who racked up 4.1fWAR from 2012 through 2013. Let's give Milone the benefit of a doubt and see what turns out.