Phil Coke, meet the quality start
When the Tigers decided to convert Phil Coke into a starting pitcher, I believed in the idea. My point was he had the pitches to be a starter, but the temperament would be the key. After two spring starts from Coke, my view hasn’t changed. And I think we’re seeing why.
Coke didn’t have the fastball command to beat hitters Wednesday like he did so often in relief last year. But he salvaged an effective start with his changeup and slider. His four strikeouts in three innings and ability to limit Houston to ground ball hits with primarily those pitches says a lot about his potential. But his ability to beat himself up mentally over not having his best stuff also shows what he has to overcome. It’s not a save or a hold, where falling behind means failure. It’s a start, where three runs in six innings still means quality. Much as it disagrees with his perfectionist streak, the sooner Coke adjusts to that, the better.