Despite late injury, Irvin pleased with entirety of first MLB season

Jake Irvin wanted to finish out the season. The rookie right-hander made his major league debut May 3 and (aside from having one turn skipped) remained in the rotation ever since, turning into one of the Nationals’ most unexpected positive stories of the year.

But the sore right ankle that had begun to bother him in recent starts proved significant enough to bring Irvin’s season to an abrupt end. The club placed him on the 15-day injured list Friday with ankle tendinitis, and he will not make his final start this week.

“Just one of those small, nagging things,” Irvin said. “I think it’s kind of the end of the season here, and the body is just fatiguing a little bit.”

It’s a disappointing end to what still has to be considered a positive year overall for Irvin, who wasn’t considered one of the organization’s top prospects but earned his early-season promotion after Chad Kuhl went on the IL and never gave it back.

Irvin’s overall numbers (3-7, 4.61 ERA in 24 starts) don’t jump off the page, but he enjoyed a 15-start stretch in which he had a 3.59 ERA and became the most consistently effective member of the Nats rotation.

A fourth-round pick in 2018, Irvin was most proud of his ability to stay healthy until this final ankle issue and to show he can hold up to the rigors of a big league workload.

“It’s really a testament to the staff we have here,” he said. “Our trainers, our training staff, everybody’s done a really good job helping me get my body in a position where I could throw every day. It’s something I did for the first time in my career, throwing on four days’ rest. It was a challenge at first, but they really helped me get acclimated to that. It’s been really special. I’ve been very fortunate to be put in this position. But the work’s not done.”

Manager Davey Martinez hasn’t said yet how the Nationals will fill Irvin’s spot over the final week. With a doubleheader today, but then off-days Monday and Thursday, the team has the ability to move pieces around.

Josiah Gray and Trevor Williams would seem to be lined up to face the Orioles on Tuesday and Wednesday, though it could go in either order. That would leave Patrick Corbin, Jackson Rutledge and Joan Adon for next weekend’s final series in Atlanta.

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