Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit
By STEVE KORNACKI  |  Last updated 10/11/13
Mlb-white-sox-tigers-may
The Detroit Tigers have made a bullpen adjustment on Friday that's sure to become a talking point on radio call-in shows across the state of Michigan. Tigers left-hander Phil Coke, who hasn't pitched since Sept. 18 because of a forearm problem, has been added to the 25-man roster for the ALCS, which begins Saturday night in Boston. Right-handed reliever Luke Putkonen, who didn't pitch in the five-game ALDS win over the Oakland As, was removed to make room for Coke. Coke was booed heavily by Comerica Park fans in a season that left him with a 0-5 record, 1.67 WHIP and 5.40 ERA in 49 games. Putkonen was 1-3 with a 1.31 WHIP and 3.03 ERA. The reason for adding Coke is simple. He has dominating numbers against three key members of the Boston Red Sox: David Ortiz is 2-for-18 (.111) with one double among two hits and five RBIs. He was 1-for-3 off Coke in 2013. Jacoby Ellsbury is 1-for-11 (.091). And Mike Napoli is 1-for-6 (.167). Both Ortiz and Ellsbury are left-handed hitters, and Napoli hits from the right side. They're central to Bostons attack and batting a combined .114 against Coke. Can Coke be effective against them after an ineffective season and more than three weeks without facing major-league hitters? And how will he hold up at Comerica, where the hometown boo-birds very well could have contributed to his 7.71 ERA and 1.88 WHIP. Tigers manager Jim Leyland now has three left-handers in the bullpen: Coke, Drew Smyly and Jose Alvarez. The Red Sox have plenty of left-handed offensive punch, and whether Coke is a plus or minus could go a long way in determining late-inning success or failure.
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