According to ChicagoCubs.com, the Chicago Cubs have decided to part ways with veteran left-hand reliever Phil Coke as they have designated him for assignment. The move is said to make room for the return of newly named starting pitching Tsuyoshi Wada, who will be replacing Travis Wood as the fifth starter in the Chicago Cubs rotation.
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Coke signed on with the Chicago Cubs this spring as a minor league deal. The details of the contract were a one-year deal worth $2.25 million, but there were incentives in the contract that would have earned Coke an additional $900,000.
Coke pitched well enough in spring training to earn his spot on the Chicago Cubs. He brought a veteran presence to the young bullpen and was also the left-hand pitcher to match up against lefty batters. The problem that Coke ran into this year was that he couldn’t get lefties or right-hand hitters out.
In his 16 games that he appeared in for the Cubs, Coke gave up seven runs, 14 hits, three walks, and nine strikeouts. The troubling stats were the batting averages that hitters were tagging Coke for.
Left-hand hitters were hitting .304 and right-handers rocked Coke for a .389 batting average; totally a .341 batting average against the left-hand reliever. The .304 average allowed to left-hand hitters is a far cry from his 2014 totals with the Detroit Tigers where he held them to a .257 average and his career average of .245 against them.
With those stats and the fact that the Cubs were carrying four lefty pitchers in the pen someone had to go. Zac Rosscup is still young and has done well enough to keep his spot and James Russell has pitched well since his return to the Cubs. Wood is more valuable to the Cubs, as he could be moved to another team for a low level prospect in need of a left hand pitcher.
At the age of 32, Coke may be done with the Cubs, but not necessarily with baseball. He pitched well for the Tigers last year and for the New York Yankees before that. Maybe the American League is just more of his style than the National League.