Pirates acquire veteran lefty Coke from Yankees

Pirates acquire veteran lefty Coke from Yankees

MILWAUKEE -- The Pirates have acquired veteran left-hander Phil Coke in a Minor League deal with the Yankees for cash considerations, the Bucs announced Thursday.

Coke, 34, most recently pitched in the Majors at the beginning of May, when he allowed five runs over six innings in three relief appearances with the Yankees. Since then, Coke had pitched for New York's Triple-A affiliate in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he posted a 5-3 record and a 2.96 ERA in 20 appearances (11 starts) during the International League regular season.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle plans to utilize the versatility of Coke, who is expected to join the team in Pittsburgh on Friday.

"He's started games this year, as well," Hurdle said. "In the last two weeks, he's started two times. There's volume there. There's experience out of the bullpen."

Coke shined for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre during the recent Minor League postseason, going 1-0 while recording a 0.55 ERA and 18 strikeouts over three appearances (two starts). Scranton/Wilkes-Barre captured the Triple-A title on Tuesday.

The Pirates' acquisition of Coke is the second trade made by the team for a left-handed reliever in the past 10 days, following the acquisition of southpaw Wade LeBlanc from the Mariners on Sept. 13. Pittsburgh enters Thursday's play 3 1/2 games out of the second Wild Card spot in the National League.

After Thursday's series finale vs. the Brewers, the Bucs have three series remaining against the Nationals, Cubs and Cardinals -- three clubs which boast tough left-handed hitters in the middle of their lineups.

Pittsburgh will be well equipped to play to specific matchups late in those games, as it now carries seven left-handed relievers. Hurdle noted that, while there is volume in the Pirates' bullpen, injuries have limited availability down the stretch.

"[A.J.] Schugel is down, [Neftali] Feliz is down. [Jeff] Locke just returned to pitch yesterday. He might have an inning in him to get him initially involved. So, there's a lot of uncertainty and we can't keep going to the same guys all the time when we are ahead. So [Coke] is another guy that's pitched out of the bullpen for multiple innings, as well as situational work."

In 404 career appearances over nine Major League seasons, Coke has gone 22-27 with a 4.23 ERA while holding opposing lefty hitters to a .245 batting average and a .653 OPS.

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.

Curt Hogg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Milwaukee.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.