The Chicago Cubs rounded out their 40-man roster Monday as veteran left-handed reliever Phil Coke became the final reliever added to the active roster.
Coke signed a minor league deal with the Cubs as a non-roster invitee earlier this month after spending four years with the Detroit Tigers. The lefty specialist has 80 holds in his career working primarily as a situational reliever — though he does have 15 games started to his credit. He finished 2014 with a 5-2 record, boasting a 3.88 ERA in 58 innings pitched. Lefties hit .257 against Coke last year with a .310 on-base percentage. For his career, they’re only posting a .243 batting average with a sub-.300 OBP.
The 32-year-old reliever tossed 7.2 scoreless innings for the Cubs this spring in nine appearances. Once considered a long shot to make the team, he will look to solidify himself as the Cubs’ left-handed specialist for the 2015 season. While final rosters have not been completely set, it appears as though Coke has beaten out both Zac Rosscup (who has a career 6.75 ERA) and Drake Britton (only 27.2 innings pitched in his career) for the pivotal role in the bullpen. Edwin Jackson, thanks more so to his contract and not his quality of pitching, will likely snag the final spot as the Cubs inch closer to their final 25-man roster.
Certainly not a sexy signing by any means, but Coke has had a decent career carving out a niche ability to consistently get left-handed hitters out. With a manager like Joe Maddon, it’s important to provide as many intricate options as possible when it comes to matchups throughout the season. As a result of making the team, Coke earned an Opening Day guarantee in which he will make $2.25 million this season. Not bad for a guy who didn’t have a job a month ago.