July 19 – Happy Birthday Phil Coke

phil-cokeYankee fans had little to cheer about at the end of their 2008 season, which took some of the luster off of Phil Coke’s sizzling end-of-the-year pinstriped debut that year. While the Yanks spent the last full month playing just poorly enough to miss the playoffs for the first time since 1993, you couldn’t blame Coke. Joe Girardi called him into 12 September games and he delivered big time. He gave up just a single run in 14.2 innings and walked just two hitters, winning his only decision and getting credited with 5 holds.

That performance rocketed the southpaw native of Sonora, California to the top of the Yankee bullpen’s depth chart when the team’s 2009 spring training camp opened. Coke, however, got off to a horrible start that year and struggled to regain his first year form right through May. He then put together a brilliant June, but was inconsistent in both July and August. Fortunately for New York, Coke was able to put together his second straight brilliant September and this time it helped the Yankee’s make a successful stretch run to the AL East Diivision title.

He then made a total of four scoreless appearances in the 2009 ALDS and ALCS before getting roughed up a bit by Philadelphia in that tear’s Fall Classic. All-in-all, Coke’s sophomore season was a success, as he led the staff in appearances with 72 and was again a force down the stretch. Though his ERA that year climbed to 4.50 runs, after the Yankees won that World Series I never once thought Phil Coke’s Yankee days were over.

That December, Brian Cashman orchestrated a complicated three-team-trade to bring outfielder Curtis Granderson to New York. As part of that deal, Phil Coke ended up in Detroit along with Yankee outfield prospect, Austin Jackson. Like his first year in New York, Coke had a solid first year with Detroit but has not been as effective since, with one significant exception. During the 2012 ALCS against the Yankees, Tiger skipper Jim Leyland lost all faith in Jose Valverde after the closer gave up two crushing home runs in the ninth inning of Game 1. For the rest of that series he used Coke as his closer and he pitched brilliantly in that role.

Coke shares his July 19th birthday with both the starting second baseman and the starting left fielder on the great 1927 Yankee team as well as this excellent Yankee postseason pitcher.

2008 NYY 1 0 1.000 0.61 12 0 0 0 0 0 14.2 8 1 1 0 2 14 0.682
2009 NYY 4 3 .571 4.50 72 0 13 0 0 2 60.0 44 34 30 10 20 49 1.067
6 Yrs 17 25 .405 4.21 302 15 59 0 0 7 331.1 337 175 155 25 121 260 1.382
DET (4 yrs) 12 22 .353 4.35 218 15 46 0 0 5 256.2 285 140 124 15 99 197 1.496
NYY (2 yrs) 5 3 .625 3.74 84 0 13 0 0 2 74.2 52 35 31 10 22 63 0.991
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/18/2013.

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