Detroit Tigers: Jim Leyland Insists Phil Coke Can Pitch To Righties Despite Results

By David Fouty
Phil Coke Detroit Tigers
Rick Osentoski – USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Angels continue to own the Detroit Tigers.

The Angels earned a season sweep Thursday as they finished off the Tigers in extra innings with a 3-1 win in the 10th inning.

The Angels scored two runs in the extra frame off Phil Coke, who has struggled to find his form this year. He was only able to get one out while walking a batter and surrendering three hits. Coke’s abysmal 6.56 ERA will not cut it, but he may not be the only one to blame.

Jim Leyland insists on allowing Coke to pitch to both right- and left-handers despite the fact that he was always a lefty specialist before coming to the Tigers. He gave up a pair of hard-hit balls to Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, who he had no business pitching to. Coke said after the game that he threw good pitches to both Trout and Pujols, and he had to tip his cap to them. He’s right — they were good pitches, but that’s not the issue.

Leyland seems unwilling to accept that Coke doesn’t possess the “stuff” to take care of right-handed hitters. Coke now has a record of 0-5 and a 1.46 WHIP. Right-handed hitters are batting  .319 against him with a .880 OPS.

It’s not as if Coke can’t bring something to the table — he absolutely can. He has great “stuff” to go after southpaws and could excel if he were used in that manner.

The blame for this loss, obviously, shouldn’t fall completely on Coke’s shoulders — part of it belongs to Leyland. He said the Tigers lost the game because they only scored one run, but so had the Angels until the 10th inning. He may need to ask himself if he really thinks Coke’s repertoire is good enough to march out there regardless of who is at the plate.

The Angels have scored 46 runs against the Tigers this season, as they finished with a perfect 6-0 record against the American League Central leaders. The Tigers played a rather ugly series after taking three out of four games against the Boston Red Sox over the weekend. They’ve had a roller coaster of a week, to say the least.

Their bullpen struggles continue to mount. They can’t continue to allow games to slip through their fingertips at the hands of their relievers. If nothing else, it’s simply demoralizing.

David Fouty is a columnist for Follow him on Twitter @davefouty, “Like” him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google+.

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