Another Lead that Even Tommy Milone Can’t Lose, Though He Can’t ‘Win,’ Either: Fish Fall, 29-9

[Note: a lot of stuff happened in this game and you’ve no doubt already heard most of the obvious stuff that you don’t need me to recap. So if I focus a little too much on the infirmities of the Braves starting pitching staff in this midst of a historic run outburst, my excuse is that I wrote all this while it was happening. If we score 30 runs every day, we could let Tommy Milone pitch every game. But you ain’t gonna score 30 runs in a playoff game, and it’s still worthwhile talking about starting pitching.]

I don’t usually participate in game threads on days I’m recapping: I get enough words already on those days.  But the Braves entered tonight with a long, and interesting, dispute about Braves pitching.  This continued a thread from the day before where there was a dispute about whether the Braves starting pitching was historically bad or just really bad.  In the service of throwing some facts in that dispute I generated a list of every Braves starter with 20 or more starts in his Braves career, sorted by reverse ERA.  At the “top” of that listed is one Joseph Albert Reyes, with the more common cognomen Jo-Jo.  He was a 2nd round pick out of high school in Riverside, CA and put up a 6.40 ERA for the Braves in 37 starts, the worst performance in Braves history.  He went on to play for Baltimore, the Angels and Miami and was much better at the tail end of his career, dropping his career ERA to 6.04.  His peak performance came with the Orioles in 2011: a 79 ERA+.

But the requirement that you have 20 Braves starts restricted the field.  Coming into tonight, Tommy Milone has two starts for the Braves and an ERA of 11.37.  If you relax the filter to two games started, Tommy came into tonight the 2nd worst starter in Braves history, trailing only Mark Redman (11.63) and just barely edging out the late José Capellán (11.25) who also made two starts.  Those three, coming into tonight, are the only two-or-more-game-starters in Braves history with career ERAs over 11. (I know what you’re thinking.  What if I restricted to pitchers who started at least one game?  If you do, you get a few more guys you never heard of, and Kolby Allard (12.38). And Kolby’s ERA in the one game he started, and “won,” was 7.20.)

Amazingly, the ever-started-at-least-one-game-for-the-Braves, but stunk, has some pretty familiar names on it besides Milone: Huascar Ynoa (9.82) is 15th, The Big Sexy (8.14) is 21st, Roberto (aka Fausto Carmona) Hernández (8.0) is 23rd, Aaron Blair (7.89) is 25th, Kyle Wright (7.86) is 26th, Bryse Wilson (7.58) is 28th, and Trevor Cahill (7.52) is 29th.   The Braves have been playing baseball since 1876, with 549 different starting pitchers, and the fact that 9 of the worst 30 starting pitchers of all time have started for the Braves in the last 6 years makes you think that just maybe Chief Nocahoma is on to something. (Robbie Erlin (7.06) is 35th, but you have to stop somewhere.)   The good news is that none of them have started that many games: Blair and Colon have more starts (29) than the rest of them put together.  Ian Anderson (2.40 in 3 starts), on the other hand is 521st out of 549, still ahead of Greg Maddux (2.63 in 363 starts) who is 513th.

And one more historical note: on that list of Stinky Starters is one of my favorite baseball names ever – Tony von Fricken, whose entire career was an 8 inning start in 1890, yielding 16 runs, but only 9 earned.  From now on, I’m going to call every bad start a von Fricken outing.

 But two starts is pretty much the exemplar of Small Sample Size, right?  So I came into this game with two questions.  Would Tommy improve, and was Ozzie ready to return and overcome whatever hair ball Tommy coughed up? What I didn’t expect was 29 runs.

So Tommy got out of the first, overcoming a dubious fielding play by Inciarte, lowering his Braves ERA to 9.82, tying him with Ynoa.  The second inning showed a reversion to form:  two runs allowed, but a Braves ERA that was still lower than when he started the game: 10.80, tying him for 10th place with a Braves starter during the 1918 pandemic: Cal Crum

Ozzie cut the lead in half on a bases-loaded fielder’s choice in the bottom of the 2nd.  Inciarte then tied the game on a sac fly on the next pitch.  Or did he?  A very close review kept the 2nd run on the board as Duvall was nearly erased at 3rd on the tag-up.  Freeman broke the tie with a line drive.  The 4th run came in on an Ozuna Texas Leaguer.  Then a 3 run d’Arnaud Dinger gave the Braves a 7-2 lead – still not Milone Margin, but at least in shouting distance of it.  Pablo López, perhaps inspired by the example of Tommy Milone, had the shortest outing of his career.   He was replaced by Admiral Yamamoto who, unlike his namesake, didn’t even make it past Midway in this game.  Hits to Swanson and Riley, and another 3 run homer by Duvall made it 10-2, followed by an Ozzie oppo, to make it 11-2.  Ender then did what Ender does to finally bring the inning to a close.

OK…. Back to the Retrosheet database, but so many historical stats were thrown around tonight, I had to go for something original.  11 run innings are pretty rare, as is batting around after 2 outs.  But it’s not unheard of.  Less than a month after I was born, the Kansas City A’s scored 13 runs in the 2nd inning, all with 2 out.  Of the 173 times since 1920 that a team had greater than 10 runs scored in an inning, 14 of them had 10 or more runs scoring with 2 outs.

The last time Milone had a 10 run lead, the Braves just held on to win.  This lead is only 9.  In the top of the 3rd, Too Slow Tommy gave up another 3 runs, raising his ERA to 12.53, passing Kolby for #4 on the All-Time List (12.54).

The Braves, clearly worried about Milone Margin, got two more in the bottom of the 3rd with Freddie’s 1500th hit, a line drive homer, to make it 13-5.  Tommy, still plugging away, gave up another run in the 4th and left with two men on and one out.  It only remained to be seen just where he would rank among the Stinkiest of All Time.  His Braves ERA has risen to 13.03 and Dayton Gryboed them both to leave Milone at an outstanding 14.90, just behind Jack Leary, whose lone start in 1880 was 3 innings and 5 earned runs for an even 15.00.   I want to be as fair as I can to Jack: he was a outfielder/shortstop making an emergency start, apparently.

In the bottom of the 4th, Freddie knocked in three more on a bases-loaded single – 16-8.  In the bottom of the 5th, another 3-run Duvall Dinger made it 19-4.  At that point, if the rules would allow it, you could bring back Milone and still be favored.  Yamamato was then shot down, and a 3 run Acuña artillery shot made it 22-8.

The sixth inning saw an appearance from the aforementioned Bryse Wilson.  A clean inning dropped him from the Stinkiest 30, but still ahead of Erlin.  The bottom of the 6th saw three more come home on a bases-loaded bullet off the wall by Acuña: 25-8.

Wilson’s 7th found him loading the bases and giving up a run, moving him back to the 30th slot. 29-9.

The bottom of the 7th found Duvall hitting his 3rd homer, this one a grand slam. 29-8. This one tied Duvall with Tony Cloninger’s 1966 game with 9 RBIs.

After a scoreless 8th, Wilson pitched a scoreless 9th and dropped his career ERA below Robbie Erlin’s Braves ERA, down below 7.00. Things are looking up.

I am not alone is assuming that Tommy Milone’s tenure will shortly come to a halt. While he was here, he was historically bad. But 29 runs can cover up a lot of shortcomings. We head to DC tomorrow. Someone stinky will pitch. Keep the bats hot, boys.

Author: JonathanF

Alive since 1956. Braves fan since 1966. The first ten years were pretty much wasted. Exiled to Yankees/Mets territory in 1974 --- bearable only with TBS followed by MLB.TV.

68 thoughts on “Another Lead that Even Tommy Milone Can’t Lose, Though He Can’t ‘Win,’ Either: Fish Fall, 29-9”

  1. In answer to Alex’s question late in the last thread, Bryse Wilson does indeed get a save. Any pitcher that throws three or more innings to finish the game for a winning team (obviously) automatically records a save.

  2. I listened to the entire game on radio. And if radio is “theater of the mind,” then this game took it to a freaky, new level. It was like rooting for Jason in a “Friday the 13th” movie. Woulda been a helluva fun game to actually attend.

    Good thing this club can swing the sticks… we’re gonna need ’em.

  3. Also, I generally agree with the Braves radio guys and consider 1871 to be the first year of the club, five years before the birth of the NL.

    I’m glad the Marlins pitchers played this in the clubhouse yesterday:

  4. Ronald Acuna, 2018: .293/.365/.552, 25.3% K rate, 9.2% BB rate
    Ronald Acuna, 2019: .280/.365/.518, 26.3% K rate, 10.6% BB rate
    Ronald Acuna, 2020: .284/.434/.647, 26.4% K rate, 19.4% BB rate

    All he’s done at the age of 22 is double his walks. How the hell do you pitch to the guy?

  5. Not sure how much Braves radio you all are listening to, but Joe Simpson has redeemed himself. He’s positive and upbeat and everything that he could’ve been when he’s surrounded by the right people in Ben Ingram and Jim Powell.

  6. Joe can still be pretty grumpy about lack of situational hitting and failure to make productive outs, but when it comes to runners on third with less than two outs this year, he’s right!

  7. Johnny F with the shoutout. Thanks…..

    Yeah org pitching is broken. I have other thoughts. Maybe I’ll ask to contribute…. Sneak preview: Shooting for 89 wins every year is a recipe for mediocre. I have thoughts on why.

    Hmmm.

  8. If there was a trial and error test on Milone and Erlin, we’ve definitely surpassed trial and have reached all caps ERROR. All I can say is…next.

  9. This is your monthly reminder that Trevor Bauer has been a top-10 pitcher for the last 4 seasons, is a free agent this winter, and has made clear he will o my be signing one-year contracts.

    Just makes too much sense for Atlanta.

  10. I think I would give Milone one more chance and cut Erlin yesterday. Erlin has appeared in 8 games and started 4. Milone is terrible, but for some reason I would give him a 4th start.

  11. Bauer is having an amazing year, but get ready for him to suck next year. He’s Jekyll & Hyde.

  12. Other than gut feel, is there any good reason for thinking Bauer would suck next year? I mean any more than any other pitcher could have a down year?

    I’m resigning myself to the sad reality that the Braves won’t (as opposed to can’t, or can’t afford) pay the market price for a free agent ace. Except that one a one-year deal they might. Thus why I like Bauer.

  13. Biggest reason is, other than 2018 and 50 innings in 2020, his established level of performance is a guy with a 4.00 ERA and 4.00 FIP.

    Additionally I saw a report a few weeks ago that noted that he’s posting by far the highest spin rates of his career, which seems disturbingly in line with his prediction on Twitter a year or two ago that if he wanted to cheat by using illegal substances he could increase his spin rate by pretty much exactly the amount he’s increased it by this year.

    It’s not impossible that this is the guy he is now, permanently, going forward. But I just believe for a whole lot of reasons that he’s the guy he was for the first 1000 innings of his major league career.

  14. We should absolutely, 100-percent sign Trevor Bauer to whatever one-year deal he wants in the offseason. Literally, we should make sure we’re the best offer regardless of the price.

  15. 4.00 ERA and 4.00 FIP look pretty good to me right now, Alex. If I’m AA and I agree with everything you’re saying, I might back off a bit on the “give him whatever he wants for a year” line, but not by much. We’re only talking about a year here.

  16. Those are fair points, Alex. I guess I personally put more value in recent performance for pitchers. Another former Cleveland starter who kicked his game up a notch mid-career comes to mind – Cliff Lee.

    I agree the spin rate stuff could very well be “foreign substance” results. But who cares? By all accounts it’s widely accepted in the league and MLB shows no signs of cracking down on it. Good lord, watch any Gerrit Cole start and it’s obvious.

  17. Look, I’d be completely fine with giving him a Hamels/Donaldson/Ozuna type pillow deal, just so long as we’re expecting a guy who is, in baseball terms, “a guy,” rather than a rent-an-All-Star.

  18. Agreed. I’m just wishcasting for a way the Braves finally acquire a guy with “true ace” potential. They haven’t ponied up for a top flight starter since Greg Maddux and it just frustrates me.

  19. This organization is in the market for 2-3 starting pitchers this offseason. Hopefully they don’t sign the next Derek Lowe and Kenshin Kawakami.

    Fried and Anderson are the only 2 guys you can pencil in for the Opening Day rotation. Soroka is unlikely to be ready for the start of the season and is probably going to miss a big chunk of the first half.

    Folty is almost certainly going to be non-tendered. If they bring back Newcomb it will be as a reliever. (Actually, he should be in the bullpen now.)

  20. I think Folty hasn’t regained as much velocity as they say he has. We would have seen him by now, or he would be starting tonight instead of them going with Erlin again.

    Erlin just brings nothing to the table. There is no reason for him to be starting again tonight. There is just no way he is a better option than Folty or Touki or Tucker Davidson or Kyle Muller. He must have pictures of AA.

  21. @22 Cue the “return of Mike Soroka is like a huge free agent signing” slop coming from the beat writers/talking heads

  22. @ #5, #10, #11

    “Theater of the mind”

    The medium is the message. Have the same feeling with Joe and his transition and his qualitative difference, it might be his partners but it might also be the medium. This, also a bit (a lot) out there, comes to mind, when thinking about the difference between a visual medium (TV) and an auditory one (radio).

    “Before the invention of the phonetic alphabet, man lived in a world where all the senses were balanced and simultaneous, a closed world of tribal depth and resonance, an oral culture structured by a dominant auditory sense of life. The ear, as opposed to the cool and neutral eye, is sensitive, hyperaesthetic and all-inclusive, and contributes to the seamless web of tribal kinship and interdependence in which all members of the group existed in harmony. The primary medium of communication was speech, and thus no man knew appreciably more or less than any other–which meant that there was little individualism and specialization, the hallmarks of “civilized” Western man. Tribal cultures even today simply cannot comprehend the concept of the individual or of the separate and independent citizen. Oral cultures act and react simultaneously, whereas the capacity to act without reacting, without involvement, is the special gift of “detached” literate man. Another basic characteristic distinguishing tribal man from his literate successors is that he lived in a world of acoustic space, which gave him a radically different concept of time-space relationships.

    Acoustic space is organic and integral, perceived through the simultaneous interplay of all the senses; whereas “rational” or pictorial space is uniform, sequential and continuous and creates a closed world with none of the rich resonance of the tribal echoland. Our own Western time-space concepts derive from the environment created by the discovery of phonetic writing, as does our entire concept of Western civilization. The man of the tribal world led a complex, kaleidoscopic life precisely because the ear, unlike the eye, cannot be focused and is synaesthetic rather than analytical and linear. Speech is an utterance, or more precisely, an outering, of all our senses at once; the auditory field is simultaneous, the visual successive. The models of life of nonliterate people were implicit, simultaneous and discontinuous, and also far richer than those of literate man. By their dependence on the spoken word for information, people were drawn together into a tribal mesh; and since the spoken word is more emotionally laden than the written–conveying by intonation such rich emotions as anger, joy, sorrow, fear–tribal man was more spontaneous and passionately volatile. Audile-tactile tribal man partook of the collective unconscious, lived in a magical integral world patterned by myth and ritual, its values divine and unchallenged, whereas literate or visual man creates an environment that is strongly fragmented, individualistic, explicit, logical, specialized and detached.”

    Marshall McLuhan

  23. Newcomb

    as Starter 16 20 .444 4.38 57 57 0 0 0 0 292.0 IP
    as Reliever 6 3 .667 3.00 52 0 4 0 0 1 54.0 IP

    Even those SP numbers are much preferable to Milone and Erlin. Makes zero sense to me.

    Folty was obviously sent down for attitude and ‘issues’ but his career ERA is 4.28

  24. For everybody that says there’s no reason to keep Erlin around, I think you’re forgetting how bad the first portion of the year was, when Touki, Wright and Newcomb were all in our rotation and not a one would ever throw a strike.

    Erlin caught on because he at least throws strikes for the most part, and it’s at least not complete batting practice a la Tommy Milone (though perhaps it’s semi-batting practice). So yes, it could absolutely be worse than Erlin. If you bring Kyle Muller up and he’s gonna be afraid to throw a strike, then I’d much rather see Erlin, thank you very much.

    @32, I agree. The whole Folty thing has always been complete hogwash to cover for the fact that AA failed to do anything at the deadline. Nobody was talking about Folty at all leading up to that, but the team implied for a couple weeks there that Folty’s return was just around the corner starting at the exact moment where they essentially passed on competing for a championship this season. Now that it’s a couple weeks later and the dust has kind of cleared, they’re backing off on the Folty BS…and this is my shocked face. Better than even chance that Folty is complete toast and we never see him again.

  25. If they think Davidson or Muller can’t throw strikes at the major league level then why exactly are they untouchables at the trade deadline? I know I’m beating a dead horse. I think Erlin is worse than Milone. Milone at least has had a major league career of being replacement level. Erlin wasn’t even good enough for bad Padres teams and a bad Pirates team.

  26. @38

    Because we don’t trade prospects unless we’ve completely given up on them. And we don’t spend money. We’re just looking for ways to make our team better without doing either of those things.

  27. The Rangers were pretty stupid to hold on to Lynn IMO. Having only one season left on that deal will give him less value.

  28. I think that teams in general are too cautious, especially with prospects. No one alive should know more of the fact that MOST miLB players do not make the majors than they do yet they hoard them like dungeon gold.

    I admired the hell out of what the Padres did at the deadline. It was refreshing to see a team really just say, we are going for it. It’s not going to work but I digress.

  29. But there’s a simple human reason for that, Chief: loss aversion. The guy you let go who does well (looking at you Adam Wainwright) will be infinitely more painful than the joy you get at seeing Shelby Miller fail. (Not that you actually get joy — you just are pleased to have turned Miller into Blair (ugh!) Inciarte (meh) and Swanson (!) And you only make that deal if it’s 3 for 1.
    Do you think the Braves would have traded Miller for Swanson straight up? Getting multiple players lowers risk of regret, as it did in that trade.) So you treat everyone like a proto-Wainwright, at your peril.

  30. @31 – Ugh the 2008-2009 offseason. Ya had to remind me? That’s the one where the Braves cheapness really got to me. Team came in with money to spend and giant holes in the rotation. The best starters – by far – on the market were CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett. The Yankees signed them both and won the World Series. The Braves signed Lowe and Kawakami and were a disaster.

    The bear writers all tried to sell Lowe as a 37-year-old “Ace” and it still irks me.

  31. @41

    It very well might work.

    It’s not going to work if the goal is to win the NL West. But that’s not the goal, is it?

  32. I don’t think we know that Davidson and Muller (or Waters or Contreras or Shewmake or Langaliers for that matter) were untouchable at the deadline. I’m pretty sure AA didn’t want to part with Anderson or Pache or Riley at this deadline. A couple of them may have been what it took to get Clevinger, who was the only really good starter who was moved. The price for Lynn must have been very steep, since no one bought him.

    I’m not defending the cheapness of this franchise; that sucks. I just suspect there wasn’t much available at this deadline beyond Clevinger.

  33. @47, I partly agree with you, but it’s not like nobody moved. For example, AA’s old team, the Blue Jays, got Robbie Ray, Taijuan Walker, and Ross Stripling at the deadline. That’s a much better upgrade than Tommy Milone.

  34. Another terrific recap, JonathanF; fun game to watch, but as I watched I was thinking I’m glad I’m not recapping this one.
    I always enjoy the historic data from retrosheet. Keep it up!

  35. After relooking at his body of work, I will have to admit I was ridiculously optimistic about Milone. I think I bought into the tiny sample size of 2020 more than I should and the management spin. I’m still okay with giving him one more start, but he doesn’t justify much beyond that. Milone was serviceable through 2015, but has been terrible after that. Here is a comparison of Erlin and Milone.

    Milone – age 33
    career
    era 4.56, whip 1.33, 913 innings pitched
    best year since 2016
    2019
    era 4.76, whip 1.12, 111 innings pitched

    Erlin – age 29
    career
    era 4.74, whip 1.28, 338 innings pitched
    best year since 2016
    2018
    era 4.21, whip 1.14, 109 innings pitched

  36. @You’re right, of course—given the current state of our rotation, any of those guys would have been an upgrade, and AA should have done more to get those kind of guys. But given the unusual nature of this season, there weren’t the kinds of top shelf starters out there that are often available at the deadline. I’m not sure I’d part with Pache or Riley for one of the guys Toronto got.

  37. @48
    Aside from Walker, who’s been remarkably lucky in his stint with the Jays (honestly, I’d settle for luck right now), Stripling and Ray have been awful with their new clubs. Doesn’t really look like any pitchers traded are working out.

  38. I’m interested to see if the performance (or lack thereof) of Tommy Milone so far affects the players to be named later, of which Baltimore will theoretically be getting two. I’m sure the guys we send Baltimore were always gonna be lottery tickets, but is the tier the Orioles will be picking from set when the deal is done? Or does his disastrous play with us make it more likely that we’ll be able to just send some cash Baltimore’s way and that’ll be that?

  39. @54 Pretty sure the terms are set when the trade is made. On the flip side, if Milone pitched even better, Baltimore couldn’t ask for better players as PTBNLs.

  40. I doubt the 2 guys are in the top 10 prospects. Possibly top 30, though.

    Milone to the IL with a case of “I suck.” Ynoa is back.

  41. Tommy Milone has one of the most acute cases of inabilitytopitchitis that I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, I’m afraid it’s incurable.

  42. Boxcar is Huascar Ynoa. I have to admit that I, as well, missed why Huascar became Boxcar, if it’s for any reason other than that they sound similar.

  43. Loss aversion is for losers. Winning organizations don’t worry about inane BS like that. I get that this IS a thing, I just think its tripe.

    Be better. Scout better. Draft better. Identify better. Teach better.

  44. Not too much yearnin’ for Erlin.

    He’s like the unwanted 2nd helping of cole slaw from that Aunt of yours in the family that really can’t cook.

    Unfortunately, as with that cole slaw, we’re gonna get it anyway.

  45. @43 and @63: It may not be just loss aversion. It’s reasonable to assume that other organizations know more about their players than you do, so if they’re willing to give up on someone, that may be a bad sign, so this may cause you to discount somewhat the expected value of what you would receive in a proposed trade.

  46. @65: But if you really took the Winner’s Curse and/or the Market for Lemons too seriously, no one would ever make a trade. George Akerlof won a Nobel Prize for discussing the conditions under which informational asymmetries cause markets to collapse altogether and when they don’t. The main thing here is confidence in your ability to bring out in a player what the other organization could not, which means that their assessment of their own players is somewhat less relevant. The other, of course, is pure mismatches; teams that are long pitchers make deals with teams that are long third basemen, or shortstops, or whatever. You can have my second-best catching prospect for your second-best pitching prospect can work because assessments are relative.

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