Cole Irvin did more than enough to warrant a call-up in 2018. However, the bloated 40-man roster at the end of the season and the fact that Irvin still has one more year left before Rule 5 eligibility meant he wouldn’t get the chance. The 2016 fifth-round pick will be eligible for Rule 5 selection after the 2019 season, so he is far more likely to get a call-up next year.
Irvin spent all year in Triple-A Lehigh Valley and was one of the best pitchers in the International League. He finished the season with the best ERA (2.57) and WHIP (1.05) among qualified IL pitchers. He also had a 3.30 fielding-independent pitching, 20.5% strikeout rate, and 5.5% walk rate in 26 appearances.
Irvin did all this without a great arsenal. He has average stuff across the board but used his above-average command to pound the strike zone and force weak contact this season. It helped that only 6.9% of the fly balls Irvin allowed left the ballpark. Irvin is toeing a very thin line playing the weak contact game, but it worked for him this year in Triple-A.
Irvin should be among one of the first names called up next year if the major-league team needs a starter. He may not open the year on the 40-man roster, but he will certainly make his case during spring training. If he pitches like he did this year again in Triple-A, it will be hard not to call him up to the majors.