Athletics starter Cole Irvin has been fascinating from Day 1.
After the A's acquired him at the end of January, he dominated in a Cactus League outing against the Los Angeles Dodgers last month and has been rather impressive ever since. Especially after building on his confidence, but he’s still battling himself.
“I felt OK,” Irvin said following the A’s 2-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday night. “Been dealing with some allergies the first couple of days. Kind of knocked me on my butt on Monday. I’m trying to recover and get myself in a good place, so I felt good today despite not being able to breathe out of my nose."
Irvin struck out eight in six innings against the Rays, giving up seven hits and two earned runs. His ERA now sits at 3.67, which would easily be his career low.
In March, Irvin said he spent the offseason “pissed off" after a tough season with the Philadelphia Phillies. He posted a 17.18 ERA in just 3 2/3 innings of relief and was frustrated with his lack of opportunity.
Irvin was mad at the lack of opportunity in Philadelphia, saying he didn’t have the ability to be himself. It appears that confidence is coming back more and more as he continues to start for the A’s.
“Just the fact that they’re running me out there every fifth day is a good thing, right?” Irvin said. "So, I’m not questioning what my role is, I’m just getting out there, trying to get outs. Until that conversation needs to be had in the future, I’m going to be out there every fifth day and be ready to compete.”
Irvin was frustrated Wednesday that he walked Brett Phillips with two outs in the bottom of the fifth, and that Phillips scored to double the Rays' lead.
But the 27-year-old did all he could for the A's, who left four runners in scoring position with two outs.
“Pitched great,” Melvin said of Irvin. “I mean, give up two runs in six innings, keeping yourself in the game. ... Obviously, we just couldn’t solve [Rays Pitcher Tyler] Glasnow."
After his 10 strikeouts in seven innings, topping out at 99.1 mph, Glasnow now boasts a 1.67 ERA.
Irvin matched the Rays ace every step of the way, once again showing he belongs in the A's rotation.
“[Irvin] made his case in spring training, and he’s still making his case,” Melvin added. “We could do things a little bit differently going forward. Try getting Mike [Fiers] in there at some point to start, but he’s certainly pitched well enough to stay in the rotation.”
Fiers returned to the roster after being on the injured list since the spring with a lumbar strain. He'll come out of the bullpen for now before building back up to his normal starting role.
For now, Irvin isn’t going anywhere.
“I definitely have a lot to prove," Irvin said. "I haven’t had much of a good track record, I guess you could say, but as a starter, I feel a lot more comfortable. I was pretty happy where I ended up today, but every time I go out, I’ve got something to prove. I’ve got a chip on my shoulder from past years."