Tigers planning to use Phil Coke as a starter next season

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After acquiring Phil Coke from the Yankees this winter the Tigers talked about potentially putting him into the rotation, but eventually decided to keep him in the bullpen.
He’s had a strong season, posting a 3.57 ERA and 51/25 K/BB ratio in 63 innings as a left-handed setup man, but the Tigers haven’t given up on the idea of him being a starter and in fact manager Jim Leyland announced today that Coke will head into spring training as a penciled-in member of the 2011 rotation.
“I’ve told Coke I’m 99.9 percent sure of it,” Leyland said. “But I’m not going to discuss it any more than that. If I change my mind, I don’t want him to think I lied to him. But I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
Coke will make his first career start this afternoon against the Orioles after working out of the bullpen in each of his first 157 appearances. However, he was primarily a starter in the minors and hasn’t shown much of a platoon split in the majors, shutting down lefties while also holding righties to .241/.332/.359.
I’m always in favor of giving pitchers every opportunity to fill a 200-inning role before putting them into a 60-inning role for the long haul, and certainly at 27 years old Coke looks capable of developing into a solid mid-rotation starter in Detroit. Right now the Tigers’ projected 2011 rotation is Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello, Coke, and Armando Galarraga, with Jeremy Bonderman likely departing as a free agent.

Aaron Judge set a new postseason strikeout record

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For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:

The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).

It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: