Jake Irvin Shows Signs of Significant Growth

One arm on the Nationals pitching staff that has shown steady signs of improvement has been right handed pitcher Jake Irvin. A career filled with more bumps than smooth patches has shown true promise in the early stages of the 2024 season.

The Minnesota native was first drafted in 2015 out of high school in the 37th round of the MLB Draft. He opted to go to college instead, where he played for the Oklahoma Sooners. Over the course of his three seasons of college ball, Irvin posted a career 3.72 ERA over 222.2 innings and became the first Sooner baseball player to ever win the Big 12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year honor. In 2018, Irvin was drafted in the fourth round by the Nationals. However, his road to the Majors took a pause when he had to get Tommy John surgery in October 2020.

In his first full season post-surgery in 2022, Irvin made some heads turn as he worked his way back to consistently pitching, starting the year at High-A and finishing in Double A. He made his mark last season after making his Major League debut in May of 2023. Across 24 starts, he had a 4.41 ERA in 122 innings pitched.

While he had some tough outings, now only nearly a year after being in the big leagues, Irvin has made his name pretty consistent in the starting rotation. Even though the numbers aren’t eye popping, in nine starts this season, he has pitched 50.2 innings, striking out 38 batters with a 3.91 ERA.

He has started to hit his stride over his last three starts against the Blue Jays, Red Sox, and Phillies. In 17 innings pitched, he has only given up six runs, striking out a dozen and keeping the Nationals in every ball game.

In his latest start against Philadelphia, Irvin locked in to deliver 1-2-3 innings in the fourth and fifth. He talked about settling into the game.

“I think it’s just kind of settling into the rhythm of the game, and that needs to happen from pitch one,” Irvin said. “For me, it was just throwing too many heaters early, getting myself in predictable heater counts and then making bad fastball pitches. Being able to mix early, keep guys off balance from the jump is kind of the key.”

While there is still room to grow, Nationals Manager Davey Martinez is happy with the improvement he has seen out of the righty.

“He’s made unbelievable strides in really how to stay out of those big innings,” Martinez said. “Things could have gotten away from him. He made some adjustments — I know [pitching coach Jim] Hickey talked to him in between innings. His head was getting a little bit out there early, and so he started yanking pitches. He was able to settle down after that and keep us in the game.”