The Red Sox will use the same roster for the ALCS as they did during the ALDS against the Rays, but the Tigers have made one change with their bullpen. According to Chris Iott of MLive.com, left-hander Phil Coke has been added to the roster in place of right-hander Luke Putkonen.
After functioning as the Tigers’ closer in the playoffs last year, Coke stumbled with early save chances this year before going down with a groin injury and found himself demoted to Triple-A Toledo in August. The 31-year-old dealt with elbow issues upon his return and was left off the roster for the ALDS against the Athletics, but he has benefited from the rest and didn’t have any setbacks while throwing in the instructional league.
With Coke, Drew Smyly, and Jose Alvarez, the Tigers will have three left-handers in their bullpen for the ALCS. The Red Sox have a number of prominent left-handed bats in their lineup, including David Ortiz, so Jim Leyland will attempt to use the matchups to his advantage.
The Dodgers have pulled off their first blockbuster trade of the offseason, sending Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir, Charlie Culberson, Adrian Gonzalez and cash considerations to the Braves for Matt Kemp, per announcements from both teams. The Braves are set to designate Gonzalez for assignment on Monday, making him a free agent.
Kemp, 33, had a down year with the Braves in 2017, hitting a career-low -0.5 fWAR in 115 games with the club. At the plate, he slashed a modest .276/.318/.463 with 19 home runs and a .781 OPS through 467 plate appearances, but was hampered by a nagging left hamstring strain through most of the season. This will be his 10th campaign with the Dodgers.
Whether or not Kemp can rebound during his second stint in Los Angeles is almost beside the point, however. The deal is effectively a salary dump to end all salary dumps. Offloading multiple one-year contracts for McCarthy, Kazmir and Gonzalez should bring the Dodgers back under the $197 million luxury tax threshold and position them to make a run at some of the big fish in next year’s free agent pool. It’s also worth noting that they may not keep Kemp around for long — per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, the club appears as likely to flip the veteran outfielder as they are to use him. As for the Braves, they not only rid themselves of the $43 million due Kemp through 2020, but added some rotation and infield depth with McCarthy and Culberson and can now give top prospect Ronald Acuna a legitimate tryout in left field.