At the end of the regular season, manager Jim Leyland said that he was 99.9 percent sure lefthander Phil Coke would join the Tigers' rotation in 2011. In the months since that statement, nothing has changed. At this point, I think it's a pretty sure bet Coke will be a starter. So what are your thoughts on that? Good? Bad? Indifferent?
Leyland thinks you should be excited for the possibility, telling the Detroit News:
"He's got good stuff. I think we'll have to tone him down a little bit. He's kind of a hyper guy.
"I think as a starter, you'll see a little bit of a different personality than you saw as a reliever, probably. But this guy has got really good stuff, and he's got three pitches — three good pitches."
Coke finished the 2010 season with a 3.76 ERA, a 19% strikeout rate and a 7.9% walk rate.
Borrowing from my end-of-season grade for Coke, we see that his splits weren't as bad as they were earlier in his career.
It's worth noting, however, that pitchers who go from the bullpen to the rotation tend to see their stats get worse. Even though they have more innings to stabilize their numbers -- a bad start isn't going to mess up your ERA as bad as a bad day out of the pen -- the pitcher isn't in quite as favorable of matchups. They also have to face the same batter three, maybe four times in a game if they're doing pretty well.
So how will Coke do out of the pen? I'm not sure I can say. Coke thinks he can do it. The team thinks he can do it. (And last winter, some guy at Bless You Boys suggested it would be good to let him try doing it.) So again, I think it's good to let him try. Still I'm always uncomfortable with just handing over a spot to a player. (Hello, Jeremy Bonderman and Dontrelle Willis!) I'd really like to see a bit more competition at the back of the rotation.
Alone, he doesn't go a long way toward solving the TIgers' rotation problems. But he can be passable as the team's fifth starter.