The first time I talked to Nationals player development director Doug Harris about Tom Milone, he said, in saltier terms than will be printed here, that the left-hander had the right kind of fortitude to get on a mound and go after hitters.
Milone doesn’t have the best stuff in the world, but he doesn’t walk many batters, pumps strikes into the zone and shows no fear when pitching inside to right-handers. It’s how he got through the minors after being selected in the 10th round of the 2008 draft, and he hasn’t backed away from that approach in the majors.
He’s thrown 42 of 61 pitches for strikes in four innings tonight, allowing a pair of runs, but only giving up two hits. He broke Humberto Quintero’s bat with an inside fastball in the third inning, and with runners on first and second in the fourth, Milone popped up Carlos Lee on a first-pitch fastball, clocked at all of 88 mph but on the inner half of the plate.
That aggressiveness will probably have some consequences from time to time; Milone hit J.D. Martinez with a pitch inside to load the bases. That moved Jose Altuve to third and allowed him to score on a sacrifice fly. But Milone is more confident in his approach than most young pitchers - Ross Detwiler, who throws much harder than Milone, has talked about struggling with an ability to throw his sinker inside to right-handers. And if Milone is able to keep that up in the majors, he’ll probably be able to find a niche for himself.
The Nationals and Astros are tied at two headed into the bottom of the fourth. Both of Washington’s runs came on Ryan Zimmerman’s first-inning homer.