Cole Irvin has been optioned to Triple-A Norfolk immediately following his third start of the year. Irvin, arguably the Orioles biggest trade acquisition over the off-season, was acquired in January along was RHP Kyle Virbitsky for Orioles prospect Darell Herniaz. Spenser Watkins has been recalled to replace Irvin. Keegan Akin was also placed on the paternity list and Yennier Cano was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk to fill his roster spot, but more on that later.
Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Cole Irvin optioned to Triple A Norfolk
Irvin was expected to bring some experience and stability to a young Orioles staff but has not pitched to expectations to this point. In three starts this season, Irvin has only pitched 12.2 innings, failing to go five innings in all three, allowing 17 hits and 15 ER giving him a more than disappointing 10.66 ERA. Irvin does have 13 K's to his credit but his inability to eat up innings and miss bats has forced the Orioles to make a change early in the season.
Irvin is not the only Oriole pitcher to struggle to start the season. The Orioles have managed a better start than 2022 and are 7-6 through the first three series of 2023. Kyle Gibson (3-0) is the only Orioles starter to have earned a win. The majority of the Orioles wins have occurred because the offense has played so well. Tyler Wells did have a tremendous outing in relief when Kyle Bradish got injured, pitching five perfect innings against the Texas Rangers when the bullpen needed the rest. He had a solid start against the Yankees except for one bad inning.
The Orioles offense ranks in the top 10 in runs, OBP, SLG, OPS, homeruns and stolen bases. Unfortunately the pitching ranks in the bottom 10 in runs allowed, hits allowed, BAA and ERA. Dean Kremer has been knocked around in his first three starts, allowing 16 hits and 13 ER in only 12.1 innings leaving him was a 9.49 ERA. Austin Voth has not been able to find his 2022 form and has yielded at least one earned run in all four of his outings this season.
Even key relievers Akin (8.31ERA) and Cionel Perez (5.40ERA) have struggled this season. Mike Baumann, Danny Coulombe and Felix Bautista have managed to keep the Orioles bullpen afloat this season. Good news, help is on the way.
Mychal Givens was welcomed back to the Oriole family with open arms this off-season. Expected to fill in as a high leverage reliever with closing experience, Givens was forced to the the IL during spring training with left knee inflammation. Givens was thought to have a chance to be on the opening day roster until he had a setback in his rehab. Two and a half weeks later, Givens was scheduled to throw another bullpen session and Dan Connolly of The Athletic reports that he could start a rehab assignment soon. Givens could be back in Camden Yards as early as the end of April.
Hopefully not too far behind Givens will be Dillon Tate. Tate also opened the season on the IL with a right hip flexor strain. Tate has not had any reported setbacks during his rehab and is on pace to return to the Orioles in May.
The starting rotation could also get a bump with Kyle Bradish recovering well from his right foot contusion. Bradish is scheduled to make a rehab start in Double-A Bowie on Friday. Because Bradish didn't miss much time he may only need to make one rehab start before returning to the Orioles who find themselves with a log jam of starting pitchers needing to prove themselves. Grayson Rodriguez and Wells will both look to hold onto there spots while Watkins makes his season debut.
GrayRod has shown flashes of the talent that made him the top pitching prospect at the end of the 2022 season but he has struggled to finish batters off. Watkins has pitched to a 2-0 record, 2.70 ERA and eight strikeouts so far this season. Watkins looks to improve off of his 2022 season where he appeared in 23 games with the Orioles and had some success. Watkins got the call over the Orioles #6 prospect, DL Hall, who has had some struggles in his first two outings.
Cano will bring a fresh arm to a taxed bullpen. Cano has made three appearances this season for the Tides with four strikeouts and no earned runs. Cano had a cup of coffee in the majors in 2022 and didn't see much success. He is a surprise call up over such players as Nick Vespi and Joey Krehbiel. Hopefully he can continue this year's success with the Orioles.
Getting back to the biggest story of this article, I want to congratulate Keegan Akin on the birth of his child. We all love the game of baseball, but we need to sometimes be reminded that it is only a game and there are more important things in life.
The Orioles got a big win Thursday on Adley Rutschman's walk off homer, but there is no bigger win than the birth of a child. Akin will be missed in the bullpen but there will be a spot waiting when he is ready to return.