Phil Coke’s transition from reliever to starter went well early on, as he posted a 3.69 ERA through 11 starts, but that came with an ugly 1-6 record and Coke has since fallen to 1-8 by giving up 18 runs in his last three starts.
Today the Tigers ended the experiment, dropping Coke from the rotation and sending him back to the bullpen, where the left-hander had a 3.76 ERA and 53/26 K/BB ratio in 65 innings last season.
Coke’s overall numbers as a starter certainly aren’t very impressive, with a 4.91 ERA and 37/30 K/BB ratio in 77 innings, but I’m guessing the Tigers wouldn’t have made the move if he were, say, 4-5 instead of 1-8 and much of that comes from poor run support that was out of Coke’s hands anyway.
Whatever the case, left-hander Charlie Furbush will replace Coke in the rotation after pitching well in a dozen relief appearances following his call-up last month. Furbush was a starter in the minors and has always posted excellent strikeout rates, but his ERA in 17 starts at Triple-A was just 4.64. He does get some extra points for the name, however.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.