Much has been made, discussed (often with disgust) and dissected about Tommy Milone's penchant for mowing through lineups at home and tossing batting practice on the road. And there is some truth to this dichotomy, as Milone currently sports careers ERA of 3.11 at home and 4.59 on the road. ("ZOMG, I can't believe he used ERA!!!!!!" You may as well believe it, folks -- I just did and you can't stop me.) The longball has been oft cited as a primary culprit, and once again the stats bear it out: In his career so far, Milone has given a HR every 9.37 IP at home but has served up a HR every 6.1 IP on the road.
But as I was perusing Milone's splits the other day -- why, what do you do in your spare time? -- a different disparity struck me. So far in 2013, Milone is pitching a lot better at night (3.72 ERA) than during the day (5.12 ERA). Eh, probably just "small sample noise". The HR-rates this year? Let's see....At night, a HR every 8.2 IP and during the day, a HR every...3.52 IP. Oops.
So I decided to check out Milone's career "day/night" HR splits, in order to get a more sufficient sample (228.2 night IP and 101.1 day IP)...At night, for his career, Milone has allowed a HR every 8.47 IP -- which is outstanding for a control pitcher whose main vice is the long ball. During the day, for his career, Milone has allowed a HR every 5.63 IP -- which is, well, just not very good. It's also worse than his career "away" split, suggesting that perhaps we should be freaking out when Milone pitches while the sun is out and relaxing when "the lights have taken full effect" (thank you, Ken) more than we should be focused on the venue.
Remember, Milone has pitched night games in bandboxes and day games in pitcher's parks. He has pitched in night games on the road and day games at home. Whether he pitches day or night appears to have as much -- or perhaps a little more -- to do with his ability to suppress the long ball than whether he is at home or on the road.
There are a couple possible theories as to why Milone might suppress HRs so much better at night than during the day. The most obvious one is that the ball generally carries better during the day than at night. And I'm sure many, if not most, of you will come to this as your conclusion as to why the splits are the way they are.
I want to raise another possible theory -- I'm not "concluding that it's the case" so much as just raising it as at least an intriguing possibility. Is it possible that Milone's pitches, in particular his changeup, might be harder for the hitters to pick up at night than during the day? Milone is a pitcher who relies heavily on deception and if his changeup is just a hair more deceptive under the lights than under the sun, you can see where that slight difference might -- with a pitcher like Milone whose margin for error is razor-thin -- have a big impact.
I find it interesting to ponder that perhaps it's more important that today's game is in the evening than that it is on the road, or that it is in a ballpark that seems pretty forgiving of long drives to left-center. I find it equally intriguing to think that perhaps hitters will have more difficulty with Milone's changeup tonight because it's an evening game more than because the Pirates haven't seen Milone before -- that it may be they will make "out in front" contact more than they will launch drives that fall just short of the wall in the night air.
All I can say, with any confidence, on the matter is that Tommy Milone is a vampire!!!!!!!!! What do you think?