Phil Coke shows that anybody can pitch the ninth

25 Comments

Did you ever notice that when baseball broadcasters start talking about the ninth-inning mentality and about all the setup men who couldn’t handle the closer’s role, they never go on to name names?

Moments after John Smoltz went on his little spiel about how not everyone can pitch the ninth Sunday, Phil Coke finished shutting down the Yankees for his first postseason save. Coke, closing in place of the beleaguered Jose Valverde, pitched two scoreless innings, striking out three, in relief of Anibal Sanchez as the Tigers gave themselves a 2-0 ALCS lead.

By the way, this is the same Phil Coke…

– who gave up a .396 average to right-handed hitters this year. Righties were 40-for-101 with 13 extra-base hits against him.

– who had given up nine homers in 40 2/3 career innings at Yankee Stadium. Coke, of course, started his career with the Yankees before being included in the three-team Curtis Granderson-Austin Jackson-Ian Kennedy-Max Scherzer-Edwin Jackson deal that also included the Diamondbacks.

– who had a 5.82 ERA after the All-Star break this year.

Coke struggled enough that manager Jim Leyland lost some faith in him against right-handers. Coke made 20 appearances between August and September, but he pitched just 11 1/3 innings between them. He typically went a full innings in his outings early in the year (apart from Aug/Sept, he pitched 42 2/3 IP in 46 appearances).

And Coke did allow a hit to a right-hander today. Alex Rodriguez singled off him with two outs in the ninth. Somehow, Coke avoided collapsing from the pressure of the situation afterwards. He just did his usual thing (well, it’s everyone’s usual thing lately) and struck out the left-handed-hitting Curtis Granderson to end the game.

Cardinals place Adam Wainwright on 10-day disabled list with right elbow inflammation

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Cardinals placed right-hander Adam Wainwright on the 10-day disabled list with right elbow inflammation, the team announced Sunday. The move is retroactive to April 20. In a corresponding move, reliever John Brebbia was recalled from Triple-A Memphis.

This is the second time Wainwright has landed on the disabled list in a month, albeit the first time due to issues with his pitching arm. While the 36-year-old hurler doesn’t believe he’ll be out for long, the Cardinals won’t take any chances with a potential elbow injury, especially as Wainwright is just six months removed from arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow. As the extent of the issue has yet to be revealed, no specific timetable has been given for his return to the mound just yet.

The veteran righty earned his first win of 2018 last Tuesday, holding the Cubs to just four hits and one run over five innings during the Cardinals’ 5-3 win. He hasn’t looked particularly dominant on the mound, however, with eight walks and two home runs spoiling 15 2/3 innings of work so far this season.

The Cardinals have yet to announce a replacement for Wainwright in the rotation, but right-hander Jack Flaherty looks to be available to make a spot start if need be. Flaherty is 3-0 through three starts in Triple-A this spring, with a 2.25 ERA, 1.4 BB/9 and 9.0 SO/9 through 20 innings. He logged one start at the major-league level, delivering five innings of one-run, nine-strikeout ball in a 5-4 loss to the Brewers earlier this month.