The Orioles have had a roulette in the final spot of their bullpen of late. Tuesday, it landed on Cole Irvin.
One of Baltimore’s major acquisitions in a modest offseason, the 29-year-old left-hander opened the year as the Orioles’ No. 3 starter. But after Irvin allowed 15 runs in 12 2/3 innings across three starts — uncharacteristically issuing eight walks in that time — he was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk. There, he found his footing, especially of late, with four earned runs allowed in 20 innings over his three most recent starts.
With the Orioles’ five-man rotation set and largely pitching well of late, Irvin figures to provide length out of Baltimore’s bullpen. He replaces right-hander Logan Gillaspie, whose latest major league stint lasted one day. He joins left-handers Keegan Akin, Drew Rom and Nick Vespi in being optioned out of the Orioles’ bullpen in the past week. Barring an injured-list stint for another player, those pitchers must spend 15 days each in the minors before the Orioles can bring them back up.
Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias noted last week that the team would likely use its entire 40-man roster over the course of the season as it pursues its first playoff berth since 2016. Each member of Triple-A Norfolk’s regular rotation is on Baltimore’s 40-man roster, giving the Orioles a collection of pitchers capable of covering innings out of the bullpen as needed.
Irvin gets the latest turn. Should he pitch in relief, it would be his first time doing so since 2020 with the Philadelphia Phillies. After being traded to the Oakland Athletics, he made 62 starts over the next two seasons with a 4.11 ERA, averaging nearly 180 innings per season.
Acquired in January along with minor league pitcher Kyle Virbitsky for infield prospect Darell Hernaiz, Irvin was expected to provide the same dependability out of the Orioles’ rotation before his struggles and a roster crunch sent him to the minors. In four of his five starts with Norfolk, he went at least six innings and allowed no more than two runs.
This story will be updated.