One can never have enough pitching depth. Even teams that feel as though they are seven or eight arms deep in the rotation will have that depth tested as injuries mount and innings are managed in the early going. For a team like the Oakland A’s, that depth can be extremely important.
With those ideas in mind, the A’s are stretching out Cole Irvin this spring. Although he has made only three of his 49 major league appearances as a starter, all but six of his minor league appearances have come as a member of the rotation. Irvin seemingly has a role to fill as a starter, even if it is as a depth piece in AAA.
Oakland A’s wasting time making Cole Irvin a starter again
The results, at least at Triple-A, have generally been positive. Irvin has posted a 20-5 record with a 3.07 ERA and a 1.165 WHiP over his 255 Triple-A innings, striking out 196 batters with 49 walks. He has certainly had success in the minors in such a role.
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The problem is that, for Irvin to return to the majors as a starting pitcher, virtually everything would have to go wrong. The A’s starting rotation at the major league level may be six deep if A.J. Puk and Mike Fiers are healthy. Then the A’s have a host of prospects that are likely to begin the season in Triple-A that are all on the cusp of the majors.
It is that crop of prospects that will be the next men up should the A’s need additional arms due to injury or to give their rotation a rest. As it is, one of those arms, Daulton Jefferies, may be forcing his way into the A’s plans for their Opening Day roster. Irvin would have a difficult time in normal circumstances in cracking the rotation.
The best chance that he has to make an impact upon the A’s would be in the bullpen. His extreme fly ball tendencies could be mitigated, at least to a degree, as a reliever. Likewise, the A’s are far more likely to cycle through relievers to keep their arms fresh at the start of the season. If Irvin can pick up a few innings in relief on occasion, he can be an asset. But that is not the case as a starter.
The Oakland A’s are looking to stretch Cole Irvin out as a starter. If they are looking to have him impact their fortunes in 2021, that move is a mistake.