The Braves made their first acquisition before the trade deadline early yesterday morning, dealing for lefty Tommy Milone from the Baltimore Orioles. The 33-year-old immediately hopped on a plane from Baltimore and arrived in Philadelphia to start in a Braves uniform on Sunday night baseball against the Phillies. And he reminded us that Alex Anthopoulos still needs to find another starting pitcher at the deadline.
Milone is a prototypical junk-ball pitcher whose average fastball sits in the mid-80s. He throws his changeup nearly 40% of the time and mixes in a slider and curve as his breaking pitches. That had been somewhat successful for the Orioles in 2020 (3.99 ERA in six starts), but the Phillies weren’t fooled.
Despite being spotted ten runs in the second inning, Milone couldn’t make it through three frames in his first appearance as a Brave. The southpaw allowed seven earned runs in just 2.1 innings of work, which once again forced Atlanta’s bullpen to save the day. Luckily, that is something they were able to do, surrendering just one run to a talented Phillies lineup over 6.2 innings and securing a much-needed victory.
Now, you can make the excuse that this was an atypical day for Milone. He found out he was traded and then hopped on a plane to start for another team on short notice. But he admitted after the game that he felt fine; he just didn’t get the job done. Unfortunately, that might be something Braves fans will have to get used to from him.
Perhaps Milone does turn out to be an upgrade over the back-end of the Braves rotation, but that’s only because the back-end of the rotation was non-existent. Milone’s consistently been a -0.5-0.5 WAR player his entire career. The last season he had above 0.5 fWAR was in 2015. There’s no reason to expect much more from Milone than to eat some innings, which he hasn’t even been very successful at this year. In seven starts, he’s made it through 31.2 innings.
The Braves only gave up two “players to be named later in the trade,” so I’m not going to label this as a major gaffe by Alex Anthopoulos… unless this is the only move he makes at the trade deadline. The Braves need another starter that — at the very least — they can use in a playoff series. Milone should never see the rubber in the postseason, and if that wasn’t overwhelmingly clear before the trade, it is after last night.
Atlanta has the talent to make a run at a World Series, but that will be nearly impossible with the way their rotation is currently constructed. I understand this is a very odd season, but it still counts, and there’s no reason the Braves should waste another prime year of Freddie Freeman while Ronald Acuña, Ozzie Albies, and Max Fried are making pennies compared to their worth. It’s time for Anthopoulos to pull the trigger and give this team a chance to do something special.
Photo: Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire