General Manager Doug Melvin mentioned during the Milwaukee Brewers On Deck Wrap Up that the Brewers were not done making moves yet, and would like to add a pitcher that could make spot starts. With the recent trade of Yovani Gallardo to the Texas Rangers, the Brewers freed up some salary, and should use that to add another left handed arm to the bullpen. A lefty in the bullpen plus a guy that can make spot starts equals Phil Coke.
Coke is a six year veteran who has split time between the New York Yankees (1+ years) and Detroit Tigers (5 years). During his career he has done a little bit of everything, making 15 starts, saving 8 games, and pitching in the postseason in 5 of his 6 seasons. Having this kind of postseason experience in the bullpen will only help the Brewers as they make their run to October baseball.
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Coke’s postseason statistics include making 26 appearances, all in relief, for a total of 19 innings pitched with a 4.26 ERA, and 3 saves. He has pitched in 2 World Series; the 2009 New York Yankees that beat the Philadelphia Phillies in 6 games, and the 2012 Detroit Tigers who lost to the San Francisco Giants in a thrilling 7 game series. He has averaged a strikeout per inning in the postseason which is up from his career 6.9 strikeouts per nine innings during the regular season.
The main downside to adding Coke is that he has traditionally given up a lot of hits. Over the course of his career he has given up more hits (420) than innings pitched (398.1). But his career FIP, which measures things pitchers can control such as walks, home runs, strikeouts, and hit by pitches and eliminates the impact of defense on balls put in play, is 3.71. This number is very comparable to an ERA and indicates that he has average to above average control, which is a good indication for a 6 year veteran.
Coke would most likely come at a very affordable price for the Brewers, which could open up the option of signing an additional player, as well. Coke has signed a one year contract each of the past 5 seasons, with the past two seasons being $1.9 and $1.85 million, respectively.
In my opinion, this makes Coke a very viable option for GM Doug Melvin. Coke is a guy that has experience making starts, would serve as another left handed arm in the bullpen, which would help out Will Smith, who is the only lefty in the bullpen currently, and would be at a very affordable price, which every GM should love. Plus, having a guy that can close a game in certain situations, along with the postseason experience that Coke possesses, is definitely someone that can help the Brewers as they make their way to playing baseball in October this season.