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What to expect from Hoby Milner

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Milner brings mid-inning relief, called strikes, and barrels

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MLB: Milwaukee Brewers-Media Day USA TODAY NETWORK

Hoby Milner made his first appearance with the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday after the Brewers sent Eric Lauer to the minors. There Lauer will get accustomed to a starter’s role and a starter’s routine in order to prepare the left-hander to join a starting rotation of six.

It’s a strategy the Brewers plan to employ across some game sets this season, including the upcoming run of fourteen games across fifteen days. To execute such a plan, the Brewers need another lefty bullpen presence. Enter Hoby Milner.

Milner pitched seven shutout innings with the Crew in Spring Training (three hits, two walks, nine K’s) and two shut-out innings with the Sounds to earn the callup. In his first appearance with the Crew against Atlanta, Milner pitched two innings, allowed three hits, one run (earned), walked no one (but hit a batter), and struck out three.

Across 75 major league appearances in five seasons, Milner has a 4.53 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP. He had an auspicious rookie year in Philadelphia (2.01 ERA across 37 games) but entered a major sophomore slump in 2018 (7.36 ERA, 1.90 WHIP) and has shuttled between the major and minor leagues ever since.

Milner primarily works with a curveball and a sinker. He has a changeup and a slider available to him, but these aren’t key parts of his arsenal. In his first regular-season outing with the Crew, he threw much more of his four-seamer, which pushes 90 MPH, than he typically does.

Milner relies heavily on placement, control, and a funky sidearm delivery to get ahead in counts and ultimately strikeout batters. He doesn’t often get batters to chase or whiff, and none of his stuff is what folks might call nasty. He does have a nice drop on his sinker and good inward movement on his curveball. Ultimately, his pitches do get a lot of batters looking. Milner enjoys a CSW% of 26.7 despite a Whiff rate of only 21.1%. Whether he’s throwing sinker or curveball, he has a consistent release point and likes to paint the corners, which is one reason he gets so many strikeouts looking.

When Milner gets hit, he gets hard. According to Statcast, Milner induces flyballs or line drives 64.1% of the time. He has a high home run to fly ball ratio (15.9%; league average is 10%) and barrel rate (18% of balls in play; league average is 7%). In other words, when Milner gets hit, he is going to give up a lot of extra-base hits and a lot of home runs.

For this reason, Milner can’t occupy a high leverage situation, and he doesn’t get many innings per appearance. Expect the Brewers to try him out in a low-leverage middle-inning relief spot.

Statistics courtesy of Statcast, FanGraphs, Baseball-Reference, and Pitcher List.