Blue Jays to recall Phil Coke for Red Sox series
The Toronto Blue Jays are currently enjoying their best stretch of baseball in over a year and the team has no intention of letting the good times stop now. With that in mind, the Blue Jays are looking to push any advantage they can find.
Enter Phil Coke, who the Blue Jays will recall from Triple-A Buffalo, as first reported by Chris Lott of MLive.com and confirmed by Mike Wilner of Sportsnet late Wednesday night.
As Wilner indicates, the move has almost entirely to do with the Red Sox struggles versus left-handed pitching, with slugger David Ortiz having an especially rough go of it against Coke over his career, going 2 for 21 against the LOOGY. As a team, the Red Sox are slashing a meager .232/.307/.366 against left-handed pitching in 2015 and it gets worse when you examine the bats that are struggling the most against southpaws.
David Ortiz – .114/.111/.157
Pablo Sandoval – .123/.153/.123
Mike Napoli – .224/.338/.483
Mookie Betts – .224/.281/.379
Of course, Napoli and Betts have combined for six home runs off left-handers, but the presence of Coke on the roster for this series isn’t to face off against right-handed hitters. He’s specifically here to battle Ortiz and Sandoval in a strict LOOGY arrangement, having held left-handed hitters to a .245/.298/.353 slash over his eight seasons in the Major Leagues.
At 32-years-old, Coke was roughed up during a short stint with the Chicago Cubs earlier this season, allowing 14 hits and seven runs over just 10 innings of work. However, his body of work in Spring Training (8.2 IP, 0 earned runs) and in three outings with the Bisons (4.0 IP, 0 ER) have the Blue Jays hoping that his early season bump was just rust. Regardless, the team will likely only deploy him.
To make room for Coke on the roster, the Blue Jays made two moves. First, the team optioned Scott Copeland back to Buffalo, almost immediately after he fired a 7-inning gem against the Marlins in a spot start for the resting Aaron Sanchez. Additionally, the Blue Jays outrighted Andrew Albers off the 40-man roster, clearing the necessary space to activate Coke, who signed a minor league deal with the team on May 31st.
Given the presence of Aaron Loup in the bullpen, one has to wonder if Coke will become a permanent member of the pen or if this just a match-up based assignment. Carrying an extra veteran in the bullpen isn’t a bad idea, but another with drastic splits against right-handed hitters may not be a long-term solution either.
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