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.
Nothing went right for the Blue Jays this weekend. The club was swept in a four-game series against the Athletics, including a 9-2 loss on Sunday. Not wanting to burn out his bullpen in a lopsided game — and perhaps thinking about the general entertainment value involved — Blue Jays manager John Gibbons decided to send designated hitter Kendrys Morales out to pitch the ninth inning. And in typical baseball fashion, he saw better results than some of the dudes who do this all the time.
Morales, who actually pitched in Cuba nearly 20 years ago, worked around a walk for a scoreless inning. He induced three fly outs and topped out at 87.4 mph on his fastball, per Brooks Baseball. He received a standing ovation on the way back to the dugout. Morales hasn’t been hearing that sort of thing for his contributions with the bat recently.
Morales, 34, is batting just .163/.248/.279 with three home runs through 32 games this season. There’s been some understandable clamoring for top prospect Vladmir Guerrero, Jr. to cut into his at-bats. For his part, Morales has been doing everything he can to break out of his slumber at the plate, including ditching the glasses he started wearing during spring training. Hey, whatever works. Morales also had two of Toronto’s four hits on Sunday.
On the heels of Morales’ first MLB appearance on the mound, it feels rather appropriate that the Blue Jays will get their first look at Angels sensation Shohei Ohtani — at least as a hitter — beginning on Tuesday.