The last few days rumors have spread like wildfire. Apparently Phil Coke is headed to the bullpen. Much like MCB staff writer Matt Snyder, I trust the source. The problem is, I am not certain that the projected moves are the right choice for the Tigers going forward.
Overall Phil Coke has a 1-5 record with a 4.54 ERA in 41 2/3 innings this season. Ignore the record because let’s face it, win loss records are as relevant as tits on a bull. In four starts this month Coke has posted a 2.92 ERA over 24 2/3 innings. During that span he allowed a respectable 23 hits and 5 walks. The numbers are enough–for me at least–to not dismiss last nights gem against the Red Sox of Boston. In addition, the stats are more than adequate for a fifth starter.
So why all the talk about moving Coke to the ‘pen?
Last season Coke was a reliable late inning reliever. To be honest we all know the song and dance. I won’t insult your baseball knowledge by regurgitating his outstanding 2010 numbers. As natural as the move sounds, I still don’t believe sending Coke to the bullpen really solves anything though.
Okay then Mr. Negative, what should they do?
The most logical move is fixing what’s broken. Something is clearly wrong with Joaquin Benoit. Get your creative writers together, find an injury and put him on the DL.
Is that it you ask?
Plain and simple, Brad Thomas is terrible. Invite Brad Thomas to step into your office. Next inform him that while you love kangaroos and koalas as much as the next guy you aren’t impressed with his performance this season. Plain and simple DFA!
Who gets the call?
Lester Oliveros has been outstanding this season! The 22 year-old Venezuelan has allowed one earned run in 22 innings between AA Erie and AA Toledo this season. During that span he’s issued just five walks while striking out 30! Oliveros is already a member of the 40 man roster and is exactly the type of pitcher to put in work in the late innings. Does he earn the eighth inning straight out the gate? You don’t know until you try. Take a chance, try to catch lightning in a bottle much like they did with Alberto Alburquerque.
As for the long-relief vacancy, I’m okay with Charles Furbush. He limits base-runners (.93 WHIP) and strikes out 10.7 per 9, yeah I’m good with that.
So what’s my beef with Oliver?
It isn’t that I have a beef with Andy Oliver per se. Andy Oliver is a much better pitcher than we witnessed last season. He was great this spring and his numbers look very impressive as a Mud Hen this season. Call me cautious but I see the desperation move as an irresponsible way to tackle the real problem. Let Oliver marinate in Toledo perfecting his craft. Seriously, let’s not take the risk at killing the kids confidence again guiding him down the same path that Andrew Miller took. Another failure by Oliver either forces a disgruntled Coke back into the rotation or even worse it forces the trump card…Jacob Turner.
Bottom line, the problem isn’t Phil Coke. We have relief options down on the farm. Utilize those options before we rush more prospect starting pitching. Especially in the month of May!