Phil Coke is like a supervillain to Detroit Tigers fans.
Diabolically ruining the Tigers’ bullpen from the inside, there is no way to stop him because manager Jim Leyland clearly isn’t a Pepsi drinker. If the Tigers picked a fan to come down and pitch to a right-handed hitter this season, they would probably have more success than Coke, and that’s not to say they wouldn’t have a better chance against lefties either.
Sporting a 6.18 ERA and a face that is an eerie reminder of Brandon Inge or a Keystone Beer commercial, Coke is that one guy you just can’t get rid of.
Jim Leyland insists that he is harmless and won’t be a burden. If there is a big situation, you can usually count on Coke randomly showing up and wrecking it, especially in extra innings — Phil Coke loves losing in extra innings.
So how does a 0-5 relief pitcher with a 6.18 ERA get as many big relief opportunities as he does?
Sure, you could say the rest of the bullpen isn’t that great, but that’s not entirely true with Drew Smyly dominating as a lefty this season. You could say ‘look what he did in the playoffs last year!’ as if we are supposed to make sense of anything that happened in the Tigers playoff run last season.
Trusting Phil Coke in big relief situations is like trusting that valet guy with a mullet who smells of Old Spice and broken dreams. Jim Leyland would though — he must not care about the car very much.