Detroit Tigers: Solving the Phil Coke problem

CokeThe Detroit Tigers biggest weakness they face so far this season is the issues of their bullpen with their biggest problem being what to do about relief pitcher Phil Coke.

Last year, Coke finished with an ERA of 5.40 which was a career high for him. This year doesn’t look like it will get any better.

Coke has an ERA of 13.50 in four innings pitched in just six games this season. His poor pitching performance in games has led to leads being trimmed down or even lost for that matter and his inconsistency could lead to frustration to players who have worked hard to build a lead and expect him to come in and do what he is paid for; to hold that lead.

There are a lot of things the Tigers could do to correct this issue.

They could send him down to the minor leagues to work on his command. Sending players down to the minors has been a team’s way of telling a player that they aren’t performing up to major league standards as Coke has been far from it. Doing this though could only benefit Coke and the Tigers if he is able to come back to the team being an improved pitcher.

If he gets sent down though, someone has to come up. Relief pitcher Robbie Ray of the Toledo Mud Hens, Triple-A farm team of the Tigers, is the top option that could come in and try to fill Coke’s role. Like Coke, Ray is a left-handed pitcher and if the Tigers designate Coke for assignment, they would only be down to one left-handed reliever. Bringing Ray up could benefit both players, giving Ray major league experience while Coke fixes his command problems.

If the Tigers don’t go this route, they could always sign or trade for a pitcher that could help.

While I don’t see any free agents out there that could come in and help this issue, the Tigers could potentially trade for a pitcher while giving away a prospect or two in the process.

San Diego Padres left-handed relief pitcher Alex Torres could be a great option if the Tigers can give up just enough to bring in the 26-year-old pitcher. Last season with the Tampa Bay Rays, Torres finished with an ERA of 1.71 in 58 innings pitched while racking up 62 strikeouts in the process. This season with the Padres is no different. Torres has an ERA of 1.29 in seven innings with five strikeouts. Torres is a young pitcher who could provide a lot of good things for the Tigers if they are to make a deal with San Diego for him.

Coke’s struggles have led to many questions that the Tigers have to make a priority to start finding the answers for them, fast.