Phil Coke | Pitcher | #40
2014 salary: $1.9 million
2013 statistics: 5.40 ERA, 4.14 FIP, 38.1 IP, 3 HR, 21 BB, 30 K, 4.93 BB/9, 7.04 K/9
Projected role: Bullpen
Coming into 2014, Coke seems as good a candidate as any for a bounce-back year. However, outside of halves of seasons where he’s put up passable numbers, Coke has yet to maintain it through an entire season. And in 2013, he was just downright awful, as both lefties and righties feasted on him.
|vs RHB as LHP||39||89||71||11||20||7||0||2||14||10||.282||.395||.465||.860||.300|
|vs LHB as LHP||45||88||77||15||23||6||0||1||7||20||.299||.345||.416||.760||.373|
In 2013, Coke seemed to lack a consistent release point, as seen here. Coke doesn’t appear to have much of an idea of where his pitches are going. An inconsistent release point or arm slot might have contributed. Has he gotten it under control? If he has gotten it under control, is it something he can maintain for an entire season? Or is the inconsistent release point just something Coke will have to battle for the rest of his career?
With Ian Krol putting together a strong spring, manager Brad Ausmus insisting he isn’t married to the idea of two lefties in the bullpen, Coke’s own shaky performance thus far, and the fact Coke’s contract is non-guaranteed, the 2013 postseason may very well have been the last we’ll see of Coke in a Tigers uniform. If you are in love with the idea of two lefties in the bullpen, keep in mind that Luke Putkonen put up a strong reverse platoon split, meaning the big righty was effective against left handed batters:
|vs RHB as RHP||27||72||65||10||17||0||0||4||6||10||.262||.319||.446||.766||.250|
|vs LHB as RHP||22||55||50||4||13||0||0||0||3||18||.260||.302||.260||.562||.406|
Putkonen, who’s been having a solid spring himself, could be used against left handed batters. Putkonen’s array of offspeed pitches made him tough on lefties in 2013; if Coke continues to struggle, perhaps Putkonen comes north and the Tigers stick with only one left hander.
Another potential option, besides taking a second left in the ‘pen, is Al Alburquerque. Alburquerque struggled in 2013, but he’s been stingy against both righties and lefties for his career:
|vs RHB as RHP||98||257||207||21||33||7||0||3||47||82||.159||.319||.237||.556||.244|
|vs LHB as RHP||83||198||169||18||33||2||0||2||24||73||.195||.301||.243||.544||.326|
The Tigers also have Casey Crosby, Kyle Lobstein, José Alvarez, and Duane Below, though Lobstein and Alvarez are viewed as starters (and potential rotation depth should a starter get hurt), and Crosby and Below seem like long shots at this point.
All of that being said, should Coke make the opening day roster and things go right for him, you can expect a year like 2011, where he posts a slightly elevated ERA but the peripherals look solid. ZIPS projects a 4.47 ERA, 3.89 FIP, 46.3 IP, 3.50 BB/9 and 7.78 K/9. ZIPS also expects Coke’s low HR/FB to normalize a bit, from 0.70 HR/FB in 2013 to 0.97 HR/FB in 2014.