Cole Irvin was not expected to be much of a factor for the Oakland A’s. At best, he appeared to be a depth piece for the rotation in Triple-A or a long reliever at the major league level, no one that the team would rely upon for important innings. However, that was before Irvin impressed in spring training, leapfrogging over several other candidates to win the fifth starter role once it was determined that A.J. Puk would not be ready for the start of the season.
After struggling in his first two outings, Irvin has been one of the A’s best pitchers. He has posted a 3.09 ERA and a 1.114 WHiP over his 35 innings, striking out 34 batters with just five walks. Irvin has been another pitcher that the A’s have turned from an afterthought into a viable piece of their rotation.
Cole Irvin’s rise mirrors that of Chris Bassitt
If Irvin’s story seems somewhat familiar, it is because the A’s had another pitcher in a relatively similar situation last year. Chris Bassitt was essentially a depth option, forced into the fifth starter role when Puk, once again, was unavailable for the start of the season.
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Although Bassitt had more of a track record than Irvin, expectations were still somewhat lower. He had performed well in 2019, but had a limited track record of success due to ongoing injury woes. Last year was his breakout campaign, as he finished third in the AL in ERA and seventh in pitching bWAR.
It may be that we are seeing a similar breakout campaign with Irvin. He had not been given much of a chance in the majors prior to this year, with a total of 45.1 disappointing innings in Philadelphia. With a change of scenery and approach, the A’s have been able to work their magic on another underrated acquisition.
There is still a long way to go this season. Bassitt had been a great story as he went from an afterthought to becoming the A’s most consistent starter. It is far too soon to say that the same will happen with Irvin once the 2021 campaign is said and done. However, based on his last four starts, it is possible that the A’s have once again uncovered a gem.
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Cole Irvin has impressed in their early going for the Oakland A’s. His surprising production mirrors the rise of Chris Bassitt last season.