The Detroit Tigers will likely have at least one spot open for next year's starting rotation. (Jeremy Bonderman and Armando Galarraga have a couple more starts this season, along with the offseason, to show they should be considered.) But there's one guy already on the staff that Jim Leyland continues to keep in the mix: reliever Phil Coke.
Even though Coke has been the Tigers' best reliever this season (2.65 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 67 appearances), and would give the bullpen a reliable set-up man in front of Jose Valverde next year, the rotation needs a left-hander. (Of course, so does the bullpen, especially with Bobby Seay out for next year.) And Coke might be the best guy on hand for the job.
At least that's what Jim Leyland says he's thinking. From MLB.com:
"I don't want to get into a long [explanation] into what my thinking is," Leyland said. "I think he's a three-pitch guy, for sure. I think he can do it after watching him. I didn't know him this year, so it would have really been a crapshoot. But after seeing him and looking at the makeup of our staff, it's a possibility and only a possibility."
In three major league seasons, Coke hasn't started any games. But he did make 77 starts over six years in the New York Yankees' farm system. So what does he think of the possibility?
"If I can be as effective as a starter as I have been coming out of the bullpen, then it's a pretty good idea by them, huh?
In the Freep article, Coke goes on to explain that the difference between relieving and starting is a matter of mindset, and how the two jobs have to be approached.
Regardless of what the Tigers decide, Coke prefers to know going into Spring Training, so he can prepare accordingly.