Editor's note: He'll get a proper introduction later, but Fielder's Choice is now in charge of community development. That is, he's going to get you talking in a number of different ways that I'll explain later. -- Kurt
Much theoretical ink has been spilled on this site over the past week regarding the Tigers' primary weakness; the bullpen. More specifically, folks have been up in arms about a particularly polarizing member of that group; one Phillip Douglas Coke.
Coke showed signs of effectiveness in Spring Training. After his first two attempts in early March, he proceeded to throw up zeroes in the final seven appearances of Grapefruit League action, allowing only six baserunners and no runs over 7 1/3 innings.
But since the games started counting, Phil has struggled. In his first appearance he was called on to face the heart of Orioles lineup and he allowed three of the four batters he faced to reach base, and all three came around to score. In his second appearance he was brought in to face a pair of lefties in the 10th inning; he induced a popup on Dee Gordon's sacrifice bunt attempt before coughing up a walkoff double to Carl Crawford. His third and most recent appearance of the young season occurred yesterday afternoon in San Diego, where Coke pitched a perfect sixth inning but not without allowing a couple of very hard hit balls.
Many fans of the team have been advocating for the organization to cut ties with the polarizing lefty for some time, and Christopher Yheulon provided an excellent FanPost detailing the reasons behind this argument. Coke's struggles became more than a small sample size a long time ago, and he hasn't shown much sign of improvement in recent memory, at least not during the regular season.
On the other side of the aisle, Coke has electric stuff and throws with his left arm. That combination has historically been a recipe for success, and it's not easy to just toss that aside. J_the_Man wrote an equally excellent FanPost that delved into Coke's pitch sequencing, and the varying quality of his repertoire. His argument, expertly supported by a comparison to Boone Logan, suggests that it's still quite possible for Coke to become an effective reliever. He might not even need to get better, per se, but just alter the way in which he attacks batters with his secondary offerings.
Both sides of the argument have merit. Should the Tigers finally throw in the towel and cut Coke loose, or should they hang on to one last hope that he can turn his stuff into results? The best thing about Bless You Boys is the fantastic and knowledgeable community that the staff has cultivated throughout the years, so I'm not going to let you guys off easy with a simple poll. I want you to tell us why you feel the way you do, and support it with compelling evidence. If you haven't read the two FanPosts I referenced above, do it now. They're good. If you're inspired, don't be afraid to let loose with a FanPost of your own.
So while the boys rest up and prepare for their first matchup with the rival Cleveland Indians Tuesday night (and the first 7 p.m. ET games, yay!) let's lay all our feelings regarding Phil Coke on the table.
Or talk about golf. Apparently some guy named Bubba just won a golden coat or something. That's funny. Or talk about Game of Thrones, just don't forget about that little spoiler button. I haven't started this season yet.