A funny thing happened with the “Phil Coke is the worst player in the history of man-kind,” the Coke Zero Tweets, and the bashing of everything from the bullpen sprints to the finger point, the left handed reliever actually became a fairly reliable option out of the 2014 Detroit Tigers’ bullpen.
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Of course, that ain’t saying much.
Still, Coke had an absolutely lousy start to his season, but finished fairly well, thus earning himself a grade of C+.
Coke coming back was a bit of a surprise when the Tigers announced they were bringing him back after a disastrous 2013 season. That season was particularly disappointing for Coke because he helped Detroit out of a pinch when Jose Valverde imploded during the 2012 postseason. Though Detroit went into 2013 with a “closer by committee,” Coke was given the first crack at closing and failed miserably.
Fast forward to the start of this year when Phil allowed three runs in his first outing of the season against Baltimore on April 5. In that game, a sign of things to come transpired when the Tigers nearly blew a 7-0 lead when Coke and Joba Chamberlain allowed five runs between them in the ninth inning.
After that contest, Coke’s ERA was 81.00. One month later it wasn’t much better, sitting at 9.39 at the start of May. Perhaps the worst game of Coke’s season came in Cleveland on May 21. In that game, the Tigers were trying to avoid being swept by the Indians after starting their road trip through Baltimore and Boston at 6-0 and boasting the game’s best record of 27-12.
Max Scherzer was bombed in that game, but the bats rallied for 10 runs. With the score tied at nine in the 13th inning, Detroit took the lead. Coke, who had come on in the 12th, came back out for the 13th and allowed two singles and a HBP before giving way to Al Alburquerque who allowed the walk-off to Cleveland.
The cries for Coke’s immediate dismissal from the team reached a fever pitch.
Not too long after that game, Coke’s ERA began a sharp decline and while Joe Nathan started to struggle and Chamberlain swooned in the second half, Coke was steady. While Coke struggled in the early part of the season, Ian Krol was a decent lefty option for the Tigers. When Krol hit the skids, Coke stepped up.
Considering where he had been in May, a 3.88 ERA wasn’t too shabby of a finish for Phil Coke. He is an unrestricted free agent this offseason.