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Your New Loogy?

Phil Coke acted as the Tigers primary left handed relief pitcher in 2010 and while he was usually called on to pitch to more then one batter, he did pitch in more games (74) then he had innings pitched (64 2/3).  In the second half, he pitched more then one inning only three times and one of those was the rough start he had on the final day of the season.  The Tigers and Phil Coke think he’ll make a good starter (and I tend to agree with them), I just don’t think it’ll be as smooth of a transition as people think.  The last time he pitched more then three innings in a game was when he was still starting in the minors back in 2008.  I’m hopeful long term, but think he might have his bumps early I just hope those come while he works out the kinks in spring training.

That leaves a hole in the pen and it looks like the Tigers are counting on Dan Schlereth to fill the left handed hole.  He also came over in the Edwin Jackson/Curtis Granderson trade (the circle is now complete, all four guys the Tigers got should make the opening day roster) and while Schlereth is a hard thrower, his role as a short relief specialist troubles me a bit because he sometimes has a hard time finding the plate.  In his brief major league career, he has 25 walks in 37 innings.  For the Hens last year, he had 34 walks in 49 1/3 innings.  If you’re bringing in a guy to get just one out and he walks that many guys, it’s going to be a problem.  And if it means the other team isn’t afraid to leave their lefty hitter in the game because they know they can ride a guy in the mid-innings and draw a walk, then you can’t say he’s doing his job.

What’s of interest is not only is he better and striking out lefties, his walk rate is also a lot better at least if you look at his minor league numbers from last year.  For the Hens, he walked only 9 batters in 19 2/3 innings against lefties (not great, but better then his overall average) but he walked 25 batters in 29 2/3 innings against righties.  I’m not sure if this is a confidence thing or what, but this hasn’t carried over into his big league career.  In fact, in the short amount of time he’s pitched in the major leagues, his OPS against for right handed hitters is just .581 (102 plate appearances) while his OPS against for left handed hitters is a rather high .888 (71 plate appearances).  His walk rate is also worse at the big league level against lefties then it is against righties.

So, the good news is, with Benoit and Valverde (and hopefully a healthy Zumaya) and with a breakout season from Ryan Perry (prediction), we might not need to rely on Schlereth too much.  Still, just in looking at the numbers, you wonder how well Schlereth will thrive in this role.

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