Phil Coke entered Tuesday night’s win for the Detroit Tigers in the 9th inning with the simple job of holding the fort down as the team was sitting comfortably on an 8-3 lead. What better time to give the embattled lefty a chance to get some safe outs.
Coke looked masterful in striking the first two hitters (Leury Garcia and Jordan Danks) out on nice sinking fastballs. And then it happened. Again. Marcus Semien roped a double to left, Paul Konerko and his .056 average at the time singled to drive in Semien. And then Adam Dunn hit one that put a dent in the right field seats. Your new score: 8-6. Coke’s night was done after 0.2 innings and three more earned runs.
Joba Chamberlain was then summoned to finish things up. After a walk to Dayan Viciedo he coaxed Alexei Ramirez into flying out to left to end the game.
And for his efforts, Chamberlain gets credited with a CUPCM.
There are a lot of newfangled and highly analytical stats flying around major league baseball these days so I figured I’d invent one. CUPCM is the acronym for ‘cleaning up Phil Coke’s mess’.
It’s not easy to say ‘CUPCM’ so I thought about shortening it up to just CUP. But when given further thought I decided that when you do try to say it, CUPCM sounds a little awkward, a little uncomfortable. This is perfect. The birth of the CUPCM stat is now complete.
So who is your clubhouse leader? To earn a CUPCM, a reliever must immediately follow Coke to the mound in the middle or immediate aftermath of one of his messes, and settle things down. It’s a little vague, but so are the reasons why Coke still holds a 25-man roster spot.
CUCPM opportunity #1: Coke takes over in the 9th against the Orioles on April 5th with the Tigers holding a 7-1 lead. Coke gives up a single, triple, groundout, and a walk. Al Alburquerque gets the nod but gives up a bloop single to the only batter he faces. This marks the first blown CUPCM of the season. Joe Nathan comes in and nearly loses the game due to his own struggles. No CUPCM is earned on this day.
CUPCM opp. #2: Three days later Coke enters in the 10th of a 2-2 game with a man on 1st courtesy of a leadoff walk given up by Chamberlain. Coke gets Dee Gordon to pop out on a bunt but then allows a game-ending double to Carl Crawford. No CUPCM here on the walk-off.
CUPCM opp. #3: Five days later in San Diego Coke relieves Max Scherzer to start the 6th with the Tigers trailing 4-1. Coke completes a stunning 1-2-3 frame and exits. No CUPCM yet again.
CUPCM opp. #4: Coke relieves Justin Verlander to start the 6th against the Indians. Coke gets a pop out and then an Alex Gonzalez throwing error puts Yan Gomes on 1st. Lonnie Chisenhall, a lefty, singles before a Michael Bourn fielder’s choice. Clinging to a 5-3 lead with runners on 1st and 3rd, Brad Ausmus calls upon Al Alburquerque. Al gets Nick Swisher to fly out to end the threat. CUPCM #1 goes to Alburquerque!
CUPCM opp. #5: Coke’s 5th appearance comes with the team trailing 11-6 to the Angels. This is a customized appearance for the struggling lefty. No CUPCM’s available on this day as Coke completes a scoreless 8th.
CUPCM opp. #6: Last night, of course. And Joba Chamberlain jumped in to claim his 1st CUPCM of the year as detailed above.
As of this writing, the leaderboard favors Chamberlain who is 1 for 1 in CUCPM’s. Alburquerque is 1 for 2.
Fans and writers (including me) continue to ask the most obvious question of all: Why is this guy still here? There might be a few rosters in the league that he could infest but the Tigers, what with their World Series hopes and all, shouldn’t be one of them.
But, after much deliberation, I have a solution – cut him from the team and bring him in as a batting practice pitcher.
Why let Alex Avila struggle for three full weeks when he’s just one Phil Coke batting practice session away from being infused with newfound confidence? In fact, I suspect that 20 pitches from Coke in the cage would inspire similar world-beating feelings that can only be rivaled by a month long cycle of Barry Bonds’ steroid program.
When a guy has a 13.50 ERA and 2.25 WHIP I say don’t look at it as a curse, turn it into a blessing. Maybe Miguel Cabrera’s slump would’ve stopped a week sooner than it did with a few rips off of Coke.
The guy is clearly an asset people, he’s just misplaced.
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