Since coming to the Detroit Tigers as part of an unforgettable three-way trade back in December of 2009, Phil Coke has been on quite a ride in his going-on five seasons in the Motor City. Through thick and thin, the Tigers have stood by his side.
After a rather solid season out of the bullpen in 2010, the Tigers experimented by putting him in the rotation in 2011, where he would go 1-7 with a 4.82 ERA in 14 starts. He ultimately found himself back home in the bullpen, however, and even became the Tigers’ closer-by-default in the 2012 postseason after the meltdown of Jose Valverde, which will likely be remembered as one of the high points of Coke’s career with the Tigers.
But then came 2013, where Coke struggled mightily, earning a brief demotion to Triple-A Toledo in August and finishing the year with an 0-5 record, a 5.40 ERA and a 1.67 WHIP. Coming into the 2014 campaign, he was thought to be on a short leash.
After Coke posted a 8.10 ERA in 6.2 innings of work in April of this season, many fans thought that the time had come for the Tigers to simply send him packing. Coke then went on to have a little bit of a rough May as well, getting touched up for a 5.91 ERA. Since the calendar turned to June, however, he has actually been doing some nice work.
At first glance, his numbers on the season don’t look overly impressive or flashy. He is currently sporting a 2-2 record with a 4.17 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP. Considering where he was earlier in the season, though, it is important to recognize just how far he has come. He is also sporting a 2.92 ERA in the month of August, putting him on track to finish his third consecutive month with a sub 3.00 ERA.
With the exception of April and May, Coke has really not been bad for the Tigers. If he can put together a good September and finish the season strong, there is a chance that 2014 may actually go down as one of his better seasons with Detroit.