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Irvin earns another start in competitive rotation

@paul_casella
May 13, 2019

PHILADELPHIA -- Cole Irvin will make another start for the Phillies on Friday against the Rockies -- and he could end up sticking around even longer. Prior to Monday's series opener against the Brewers, Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said that Irvin has "earned the opportunity to get additional looks" following

PHILADELPHIA -- Cole Irvin will make another start for the Phillies on Friday against the Rockies -- and he could end up sticking around even longer.

Prior to Monday's series opener against the Brewers, Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said that Irvin has "earned the opportunity to get additional looks" following his impressive Major League debut on Sunday in Kansas City. Filling in for Vince Velasquez, who is on the injured list with a right forearm strain, Irvin allowed just one run over seven innings on his way to earning the win over the Royals.

"The competition level right now in the starting rotation is especially high," Kapler said, "because of guys like Jerad Eickhoff and Cole Irvin’s ability to come up and make a sensational start for us."

Eickhoff has a 1.50 ERA in five appearances this season, including a 1.73 mark in four starts since replacing Nick Pivetta in the rotation. At the same time, Pivetta has put up a 2.84 ERA over his last three starts with Triple-A Lehigh Valley, while striking out 25 batters in 19 innings.

As for Velasquez, the club still expects his stay on the injured list to be brief. Yet with Irvin getting another start on Friday, there is no guarantee that Velasquez will jump right back into the rotation upon his return.

Velasquez had a 2.08 ERA in his first four starts this season, but he allowed eight runs in 7 2/3 innings (9.39 ERA) in his last two starts before landing on the injured list.

"Vince is going to come off the IL and be excited about trying to get that rotation spot back," Kapler said. "Again, what I’d say is, it’s constant competition. Competition is really good for a team in the hunt. It’s going to be based on who gives us the best chance to win that night’s baseball game."

For this turn through the rotation, Kapler believes that player is Irvin. Kapler was impressed with Irvin's ability to attack the zone against the Royals -- he needed just 93 pitches to complete seven innings and walked only one -- but added the 25-year-old lefty still has plenty of room for improvement.

"The part that is going to be challenging for him is to limit really hard contact," Kapler said. "Even in the start against the Royals, there were some balls that may be punished at another time. He was not perfect, but it was a really good, aggressive, confident start. And that is what we think might set Cole apart."

Robertson gets second opinion

Reliever David Robertson, on the injured list with soreness in his right elbow, visited Dr. James Andrews on Monday for a second opinion.

Andrews recommended that Robertson go three weeks without throwing, with the hope that the extended rest will allow things to "heal naturally," according to Kapler. Robertson has not pitched since April 14.

"David feels more comfortable after this most recent diagnosis, and feels more confident," Kapler said. "So it was a good news visit from our perspective."

Despite the positive news, Kapler said there remains no timetable for Robertson's return.

News and notes

• The Phillies placed reliever Edubray Ramos on the injured list Monday with right biceps tendinitis. Kapler said the move was mostly precautionary and added that he expects this to be a "very short stint" on the injured list.

The club recalled left-hander Austin Davis from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to take Ramos' spot on the active roster.

• Scott Kingery (right hamstring strain) was set to begin a rehab assignment Monday night with Class A Lakewood, but the BlueClaws' game against Greensboro was rained out. Kingery is expected to be in Lakewood's lineup Tuesday against Hagerstown.

Paul Casella is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter @paul_casella.