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.
Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.
The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.
The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.