Cole Irvin walked around the warning track Citizens Bank Park on Monday afternoon to give himself a tour of his new digs.
It was his first day of work in South Philly as a Phillies player, and he snapped a picture from behind home plate and took in the view from center field. Irvin, who won his major-league debut on Sunday, had been a big leaguer for a little more than 24 hours. He was still soaking it in. But it seems like Irvin may be able to get used that feeling.
The lefthander did enough on Sunday -- one run in seven innings -- for Gabe Kapler to say he has earned “additional looks.” Irvin will start Friday against Colorado. The Phillies, once believed to be thin in their starting rotation, suddenly have options with Irvin and Jerad Eickhoff pitching strong in the absence of Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez.
Pivetta is pitching well at triple A and Velasquez is not expected to miss much time with his forearm strain. If Eickhoff and Irvin continue to pitch well, the Phillies will have a decision to make. Their bullpen, thinned by injuries, could use an extra arm if the team is willing to transition Velasquez or Pivetta to a relief role.
The Phillies discussed moving Pivetta to the bullpen earlier this month when they sent him to triple A. But those discussions were never anything more than preliminary chatter. He has struck out 25 batters in 19 innings over his last three triple-A starts. Kapler said Pivetta is “pining” to return.
Velasquez, after being placed on the injured list, said he “is still a starting pitcher.” It was the same sentiment he expressed numerous times since coming to the Phillies before the 2016 season from the Astros, who briefly used Velasquez as a reliever. But Velasquez made six starts this season and just two went past the fifth inning. Perhaps his 95-mph fastball and his fiery mindset could be best channeled in one-inning, high-leverage increments.
It will be a decision that Irvin and Eickhoff could force the Phillies to consider.