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Phil Coke Optioned to AAA Toledo


July 11, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Phil Coke (40) pitches in the eighth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Tigers have optioned Phil Coke to AAA Toledo after the first game of a three game series against the Minnesota Twins. The Tigers have recalled Jose Alverez from Toledo to take his place.

This season, Coke has pitched in 42 games and is 0-5 with a 5.00 ERA and a 1.444 WHIP. For the season, Coke has a FIP of 3.79 and 4.16. It has been obvious for some time that something needed to be done with Coke. Coke was last season’s postseason hero, but he has turned into this season’s most criticized Tiger taking the place of a list of players that has included Brandon Inge, Don Kelly, and Jose Valverde.

Coke is going down to AAA to try to get straightened out, but his number have never really been super impressive in Detroit. Since arriving in Detroit in 2010, Coke has had ERA’s of 3.76, 4.47, 4.00, and now 5.00 with WHIPs of 1.438, 1.454, 1.684, and 1.444. What is more troubling than those numbers are Coke’s numbers against LHB. Lefties hare hitting .279/.307/.382 and Phil is supposed to be a left handed specialist. He should not be used against RHB, but RHB had more PA’s than LHB. Righties hit .273/.372/.455 against Coke.

The hope is that Coke can figure out how to fix his problems, both mechanical and mental. Coke has been on a downward trend since arriving in Detroit, and the hope is that Coke can become a serviceable pitcher in the Tigers’ bullpen.

Alverez has been called up to take Coke’s place. Alverez has been used as a spot starter while Anibal Sanchez was on the DL and most recently started in the second half of Friday’s doubleheader with the Kansas City Royals.

So far this season with the Tigers, Alvarez has a 4.62 ERA in 5 starts with a WHIP of 1.421. There is a hope the Alvarez can have a Smyly like transformation from the Rotation to the bullpen, but the main hope is that he will be solid against LHB and serve as a one or two batter reliever.

The 25th spot on the roster and the last spot in the bullpen will not be the difference whether or not the Tigers’ make the postseason and a postseason run, but Coke shoed last year how useful he can be in last season’s postseason run.