Results tagged ‘ Phil Coke ’
I’m not usually one to question the managing tactics of Jim Leyland, but lately I can’t help but wonder what he’s been thinking. Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s done a fine job during his time here, but I can’t help but feel like he’s lately been making a few costly decisions.
As a manager, it’s your job to do what you can to put your players in the best possible position to be successful. Leyland’s done a perfect job of that for some players, such as Quintin Berry and Andy Dirks. It’s also not a complete surprise that Gerald Laird is having as good of a year as he has. Unfortunately, not everything has been working out so perfectly.
My biggest complaint and concern involves Leyland’s use of Phil Coke out of the bullpen. For whatever reason, he seems to be continually putting him a position where he simply can’t succeed. If I wasn’t as knowledgeable about baseball as I am, I’d almost think that he’s purposely trying to run him out of town.
Why is this you ask? For one simple reason, and that’s that Phil Coke should NOT be facing right-handed hitters. Entering today, right-handed hitters were batting .393 against him over 91 at bats, which isn’t exactly a small sample size.
So when the Minnesota Twins had runners on second and third with one out in the sixth inning, the Tigers trailed by a score of 3-1, certainly not insurmountable with the Tigers’ offense. In this crucial spot, Leyland brought in Coke to face the left-handed hitting Ben Revere. Revere then grounded out to first. This brought up the right-handed Darin Mastroianni.
Some options in this situation included walking Mastroianni to load the bases, but would allow Coke to face Joe Mauer, who bats left handed. Another option would be to bring in a right-handed pitcher, such as Octavio Dotel. The third option (and in my opinion the worst) was the one Leyland chose, and that was to let Coke face Mastroianni. Sure enough, he got a base hit and both runs scored. At that point, the game very much felt over.
The fact of the matter is that Phil Coke does not deserve a spot on the Tigers 25-man roster. Simply put, the Tigers need to find an upgrade for Coke if they want to have a chance to make it deep into the playoffs. As sad as it is to say, that shouldn’t be too hard to do.
If you’re a Tigers fan, you’ve probably found yourself wondering what’s going on with our late-inning relievers. No, I’m not necessarily talking about Jose Valverde, but two other important relievers: Phil Coke and Joaquin Benoit.
There’s no denying that Coke and Benoit have been struggling in recent weeks. It’s been an especially bizarre stretch for Benoit. Since July 1st, Benoit has allowed only eight hits in the last 13 and a third innings he’s pitched. Of those eight hits, six have been home runs. Is it bad luck? Is it a result of poor mechanics, or is he injured?
Simply put, I don’t have the answer. It’s no secret that Benoit has been nursing an aching shoulder, so I can’t help but wonder if that has something to do with it. A trip to the disabled list would certainly seem likely, but that’s merely just speculation.
Benoit struggled in the early parts of the 2011 season, so there’s still hope that he’ll be able to find a way to turn his season around. On the year, he’s pitched fairly well, posting a 3.40 ERA, while striking out just over a batter per inning.
Coke hasn’t had much consistency during the 2012 season, and hasn’t shown any clear indication that he’s closer to figuring it out. There’s no denying that Coke is a crucial piece of the Tigers bullpen, as he’s always been reliable to get left-handed batters out in the later innings of the game.
Although he’s done an okay job of keeping lefties in check (he’s holding them to a .263 batting average this year), right-handed hitters have been hitting him hard all year long. Righties are batting .393 against Coke in 89 at bats this year. It’s not exactly a small sample size, especially for someone who is expected to pitch only an inning at a time.
One would think that would lead to Coke having a terrible year, but that’s not necessarily the case. In fact, his ERA on the year (3.97) is lower than his career ERA (4.05). Perhaps we’re just starting to see that Coke simply is not as effective of a pitcher as Detroit fans had hope.
For what it’s worth, his 2011 WAR (wins above replacement) was -.1, meaning that he was determined to be worse than the average player at the same position.
With Duane Below and Darin Downs pitching well (both left-handed relief pitchers), and Drew Smyly likely to return from the disabled list, it wouldn’t shock me to see either Coke getting traded, optioned to Toledo or released. Is it likely? Probably not, but it’s something I’m sure the Tigers will be considering.
Entering tonight, the Detroit Tigers’ bullpen has the highest ERA out of all teams in the American League. If they’re going to be anything better than a .500 team, that needs to change.
Every single pitcher in the bullpen for the Tigers has had their ups and downs so far this year, and frankly, I don’t feel that confident seeing any of them entering a game right now. It’s bizarre if you think about it, because we do have several quality arms in our bullpen.
Jose Valverde hasn’t nearly looked as dominant or consistent as he has been in years past, Joaquin Benoit struggled early in the year but has looked better as of late, Phil Coke hasn’t looked sharp recently and Octavio Dotel looked horrible when he blew a save opportunity against the Mariners less than a week ago.
I’m curious if the Tigers are going to attempt to trade for a pitcher like Grant Balfour, or if they’re going to just wait until Al Alburquerque comes back. Until we get our bullpen straightened out, it’s going to be hard to put together any significant winning streaks.
Earlier today, I completed my first ever fantasy baseball auction draft for a 12 team head to head league. I heavily suggest you and your friends giving it a try sometime, as it adds a fun and competitive dynamic not found in a traditional draft. The concept is quite simple, even for first time participants. You start out with a certain amount of “dollars” to spend on your team (for us, it was 260 dollars). Instead of going in order to draft players, you rotate nominating players, in which all teams have the option of bidding on said player. The catch is you must be able to bid at least one dollar on every single player, and you cannot spend over your bankroll on your entire draft. This creates a challenge when you big top dollar on players early in the draft, but find yourself too low on funds to bid on players in the later rounds.
Here’s my team, and how much I bid on each player.
Catcher: Alex Avila-$13
First baseman: Joey Votto-$47
Second baseman: Ryan Raburn-$1
Shortstop: J.J. Hardy-$6
Third baseman: Placido Polanco-$5
Outfield: Curtis Granderson-$32
Outfield: Brennan Boesch-$7
Outfield: Drew Stubbs-$7
Utility: Corey Hart-$7
Utility: Carlos Beltran-$5
Bench: Jhonny Peralta-$1
Bench: Yadier Molina-$3
Bench: David Freese-$4
Bench: Neil Walker-$3
Starting pitcher: Roy Halladay-$42
Starting pitcher: Doug Fister-$15
Relief pitcher: Jose Valverde-$14
Relief pitcher: Phil Coke-$3
Pitcher: Rick Porcello-$6
Pitcher: Mat Latos-$12
Pitcher: Ryan Madson-$6
Bench: Max Scherzer-$4
Bench: Tim Hudson-$2
Overall, I really feel like my team is very solid all around, with enough star players to make a difference. My strategy going into the draft was to not spend more than 20 percent of my budget on any one player, and to not have more than three people combine to cost more than 60 percent of salary cap. I was able to get my three most expensive players for 46.5% of my budget. By doing this, I had plenty of money available in the later parts of the auction to outbid people who spent foolishly early on. If you do find yourself in an auction draft, I suggest using a similar strategy, as I thought it worked quite well.
So for those of you who didn’t read my last blog (which was a while ago thanks to some new changes at mlblogs.com), I made a few predictions about things I think are likely to happen in the near future. It appears I’m going to start off 1-0, because despite hearing it officially from the Tigers, an article at blessyouboys.com revealed that the Tigers are indeed going to bring Phil Coke back to the bullpen, and call up Charlie Furbush and Andy Oliver. (link to story)
I think the move is necessary with Joaquin Benoit struggling recently, and the Tigers desperately needing late inning help out of the bullpen. Overall, I like the move, especially since Coke is the only of the three named pitchers with really any consistent experience out of the pen.
Now it’s off to Boston where hopefully the Tigers can win a tough series on the road, and put themselves in good position to gain some ground on the Cleveland Indians.
Cliff notes: Tigers are reportedly going to send Coke out of rotation into the bullpen, call up Andy Oliver and put him in the rotation, and then finally add Charlie Furbush to the bullpen as well.
Pardon the cheesy title, but I felt the need to comment on Phil Coke’s first start for the Detroit Tigers. Although many questioned whether or not he could make the adjustment going from the bullpen to the starting rotation, Coke put Tigers fans at ease with his performance today.
Granted, it wasn’t exactly against an offensive powerhouse, but 6.2 innings, three hits, two runs along with seven strikeouts should silence many critics. Now, this isn’t to say that Coke was perfect today, and certainly his four walks were higher than you would like to see, but his ability to mix pitches and speeds was encouraging.
The Tigers definitely need to see productive outings out of Coke if they want to contend in 2011, and this is definitely a step in the right direction.