Coke to DL, Wilk called up, Oliver starting Saturday
Phil Coke’s ill-fated step coming off the mound Monday night will cost him at least the next couple weeks. It will also push prospect Andy Oliver into the Tigers rotation.
The team knew enough Tuesday morning to make a roster, placing Coke on the 15-day disabled list with a bone bruise in his right foot. Detroit purchased the contract of lefty Adam Wilk from Triple-A Toledo to take his place for now as an extra reliever, giving the Tigers an eight-man bullpen for the next four days until Coke’s rotation spot comes back around Saturday.
The Tigers took the mystery out of that spot quickly by announcing they’ll recall Oliver from Toledo to make the start Saturday night against the Red Sox at Comerica Park. He’s expected to then stick in the rotation to fill the spot the following weekend at Chicago against the White Sox.
Coke suffered the injury when he tried to chase down Ben Zobrist’s bunt attempt in the fourth inning Monday night. Though the intiial diagnosis was an ankle injury, a later exam revealed an extra bone in Coke’s foot, the left-hander said after the game. It collided with another bone in his foot when he stepped awkwardly on the cutout between the mound and home plate.
Coke had no idea how long it would need to heal, guessing it would be day-to-day. A follow-up diagnosis clearly suggested longer than that, though the Tigers didn’t announce a timetable for recovery when they announced the roster moves Tuesday morning.
Coke owns a 1-5 record and 3.81 ERA, but owns a 2.89 ERA in five May outings along with a .238 opposing batting average. He’s winless since April 14 through a combination of run support and bullpen woes.
Wilk is 3-4 with a 3.86 ERA in eight starts at Toledo, but the Tigers have seen the 23-year-old as a relief prospect ever since he made an impression in Spring Training. He’ll give the Tigers a third lefty reliever for the time being, joining lefty specialist Daniel Schlereth and long man Charlie Furbush, whose 3 2/3 scoreless innings in Coke’s place earned him his first Major League win Monday.
Oliver and Furbush had been viewed as the Tigers’ best two starting prospects at Toledo, but with different styles. Oliver has a 4-3 record and 3.26 ERA in eight starts for the Mud Hens, striking out 48 batters over 49 2/3 innings while showing the ability to get quick outs and work deep into games.
Oliver went 0-4 with a 7.36 ERA in five starts for the Tigers last June and July, filling a rotation spot after Rick Porcello was sent down until just after the All-Star break to work through a sophomore slump. Oliver’s success led to speculation on when he might return to Detroit, but the success of the Tigers’ current startesr ensured that his path was blocked.
The Tigers did not say what the roster move will be to make room for Oliver when he’s recalled. To make room for Wilk on the 40-man roster, Detroit designated right-handed reliever Robbie Weinhardt for assignment. The 25-year-old sinkerballer was briefly up with the big club in April, but has struggled at Toledo. Detroit will wait to see if he clears waivers and can have his contract outrighted to the Mud Hens.