Another debut looming

The Tom Milone era kicks off Saturday night against the Mets, once a little roster shuffling takes place. The Nationals intend to take a look this month at Milone, Brad Peacock and Steve Lombardozzi, but all three have to be added to the 40-man roster. Hence, three names on there this morning will not be there much longer.

Milone was a 10th-round pick of the Nats in 2008 out of Southern California, and the lefty has advanced up the ladder like clockwork. In 91 minor league games - 86 starts - he’s gone 37-22 with a 3.05 ERA. He’s a command specialist: One look at his control numbers tell you all you need to know. In 516 2/3 innings, he’s struck out 465, and walked just 84, two intentionally. His career strikeout-to-walk ratio per nine innings is 8-to-1.5. He also keeps the ball in the ballpark, averaging just about a half a homer per nine innings.

Milone also brings a little offense with him to Washington. This year at Syracuse he batted .346 in 26 at-bats, with a double and three RBIs. A lefty who can throw strikes and put the ball in play on offense? What’s not to like?

Milone was on “Nats Xtra” with us at the ballpark last year after his impressive Double-A season at Harrisburg. He was personable, well-spoken and not at all reticent in front of the camera. His audition for the 2012 rotation begins tomorrow, and sometime very soon his Chiefs teammate, Peacock, should also get the ball.

If it’s true that you can judge the competence of an organization’s player development staff by the caliber of its September call-ups, the Nationals’ administrators seem to be getting it right. Saturday’s game with the Mets shapes up as another watershed moment in the history of this franchise.