Originally written on The Detroit Sports Site  |  Last updated 4/4/13
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Even though he blew a save Wednesday, Phil Coke should be the Tigers’ closer right now. Phil Coke should be given the Detroit Tigers’ closer role, for now, even after Wednesday’s blown save against the Twins. Coke proved himself on the biggest stage last postseason, when he stepped in for Jose Valverde to help lock down games. He also had an excellent opening day performance. The game 2 showing wasn’t all-star quality but he, like almost every closer, is going to have some off nights. Aside from how he stepped up during the postseason run, there are other less obvious reasons that I’d pick him as the Tigers’ closer, at least in the short-term. For me, it’s also about his intangibles. He’s got that pizzazz that you want in a closer. He’s high strung, acts a little crazy, sprints to the mound, points to the sky … and he just has that closer feel. He forces fans to feel that little nervous energy, and it is exciting to watch. The Tigers would benefit from the security of knowing that Coke is the man in the ninth inning, and so would the rest of the bullpen. Everyone needs a specific role to play — Coke should be the leading man in the bullpen act. While we are at it, let’s just keep running down where everyone else should line up: Joaquin Benoit is the perfect setup man (with Octavio Dotel another option); Al Alburquerque, Brayan Villareal and Darin Downs can carry the load in middle relief; and Drew Smyly has the long-relief job nailed down, even though he struggled in the opener. Why do the Tigers have to pretend to leave everything up in the air? Jim Leyland used Coke as the closer in each of the first two games, with Benoit leading him in. So, officially place Phil Coke in the closer position, and let’s see what happens.
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