Luke Putkonen is being sent down to Toledo in order to create a spot for Coke in the bullpen. Putkonen looked solid in his two appearances while Coke was on the DL, allowing no hits and two walks in 2.2 innings pitched.
As a lefty specialist, Coke is proving to be more of a situational option than a long-reliever who can face both right and left-handers. That said, he will need to be on the top of his game if he wants to stick with the Tigers. Putkonen has better stuff to face hitters from both sides of the plate, but isn’t nearly as good against lefties as Coke has the potential to be.
Coke was part of the Tigers’ early bullpen struggles. In 8.2 innings, he allowed eight runs while posting a record of 0-3. His effectiveness may have been hindered by the groin issue that sent him to the DL in the first place. Since then, the Tigers have righted the ship in the bullpen with a couple of key pieces. Coke knows he cannot struggle like he did in the early going if he wants to keep his spot.
Coke has been consistent throughout his career. He has never been dominant, but has exceptional stretches against lefties which significantly adds to his value. Jim Leyland won’t be quick on the trigger when it comes to sending him back down, but he also won’t be afraid to give some of his minor league options a chance should Coke falter.