After starting the year with the Orioles and giving up 15 runs and 17 hits over 12 2/3 innings his first three starts, lefty Cole Irvin, 29, found himself back in Triple-A. This was the first time he made more than one start in the minors since 2019.
With an 0-2 record, 10.66 ERA and 1.97 WHIP, the club decided that he needed a reboot. And he got it with the Norfolk Tides. He returns to the O’s roster today, and for now will work out of a bullpen role.
“Yeah, I got away from doing what I know how to do best, which is throwing sinkers down at the bottom of the zone and changeups. Got back to some good pitch mixes and got back to good locations. So, yeah, here to do a job and I’ll be prepared to do it,” Irvin said today of his stay in Norfolk.
He went 4-1 with a 3.19 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in five starts with the Tides.
“It is part of the process,” he said. “When you have options, teams are going to use them when they have them. If you are not performing well that is just what happens in our game. It’s part of my job, part of our work, and my process is to keep my head down, keep working and get back. So, here we are.”
He put up solid numbers with the Triple-A team. Over his five games there he allowed 33 hits in 31 innings with just four walks to 17 strikeouts. He had walked eight in his first three O’s starts this year, producing a walk rate of 5.68. Last year with Oakland, when he went 9-13 with a 3.98 ERA over 30 starts, his walk rate was just 1.79.
Was it just the reps that helped him find himself and put up better stats with Norfolk? In his last three Tides starts, he went 20 innings, allowing four runs with two walks to 13 strikeouts. Twice he pitched seven innings.
“No I mean, it was just getting back into a rhythm and understanding what made me successful at this level,” he said in the Orioles clubhouse before game two of the series with the Angels. “And one thing that I wasn’t doing was doing things that made me successful. So we just got back to doing good things. Working with (pitching coach Justin) Ramsey down there was incredible. He does such a great job with the all the pitchers there to prepare them to come up. Talked to the staff here and just ironed some things out and got back on to good locations, got my confidence back up and feeling good and really happy to be back in this clubhouse.”
In 2021 and 2022 for Oakland, he made 62 starts and zero relief appearances. But for now it’s a ‘pen role.
“However the team wants to use me, they can utilize me however they need. I’m here to win and help this team in any facet. I have a lot of confidence right now to be able to execute pitches the way I know how. Whatever role that is, I’m not going to complain. I’m going to be here to get my work in,” said Irvin.
Irvin was quickly becoming a key member of this team – in the clubhouse, especially – before he was optioned out on April 14. He said he didn’t miss watching an Orioles game while he was away from this team.
“When I was little late to watching a game, I’d watch it from the beginning and catch up. These are my teammates and the guys in Norfolk are my teammates. All of us have a plan to win together, and we have high expectations of each other and what we want to accomplish this season. It was important I watch and stay connected. I was still texting guys and communicating with guys – all good stuff. That was no 'poor me' attitude is the best way to put it,” he said.