Phil Coke and postseason eligibility
Yes, Phil Coke will be back with the Tigers once rosters expand Sept. 1. Manager Jim Leyland made that clear when he announced the move after the game Tuesday night.
“He’s going to be back here,” Leyland said. “He’s very much a part of our team. This is an opportunity to go down and see what he does.”
And when he returns, he will be postseason eligible.
Under normal circumstances, the rule is that players have to be on the 25-man roster on Aug. 31 to be eligible for the playoff roster. If a team has to replace an injured player, someone who’s on the disabled list at season’s end, the team can go beyond the 25-man roster and grab someone who was in the organization as of Aug. 31.
Luis Marte fits the category; he had season-ending shoulder surgery earlier this year, but didn’t go on the Tigers’ 15-day disabled list until July 31. No matter what his chances were of actually making the postseason roster if he were healthy, he technically would’ve been eligible.
It’s a 1-for-1 exchange. So the Tigers couldn’t use the same injury as an excuse to, say, put Coke and Nick Castellanos on the postseason roster.
Technically, the Tigers could bypass the rule altogether and recall Phil Coke on Aug. 31, the first day he’s eligible to return unless he’s replacing an injured player. But that doesn’t sound like the plan in this case.
Yes, I fully realize that the way Coke has been pitching brings any postseason play into question. The best counterargument would be his numbers through August of last year. As of Aug. 31, Coke had allowed 65 hits over 48 1/3 innings last season, good for a .332 opposing batting average, a .407 average on balls put in play, and an .853 OPS. His numbers only slightly improved in September, and his ERA and OPS actually went up.
Could happen again.