Earlier I reported that Jameson Taillon will be heading to the Arizona Fall League this off-season. I’ve also learned that right-handed pitcher Phil Irwin will be going to the AFL. Irwin missed almost the entire season due to an injury. He made one start with Indianapolis, then was called up to Pittsburgh to fill in the rotation. He only threw 4.2 innings, then was shut down for a few weeks. He returned for one more start with Indianapolis at the end of April, but that was his final start of the year.
At the start of July, Irwin had ulnar nerve transposition surgery on his right elbow. That put him out for about two months, which means he should be eligible to return soon. Irwin pitched in the AFL in 2011, although he left early with tightness in his right forearm. Those nagging injuries have been an issue for Irwin, and are pretty much the main drawback for him as a pitcher. He’s not going to be a top of the rotation guy, but he could be a reliable starter when healthy. This year would have been a great opportunity for him to crack the rotation, but the injury prevented it.
Irwin will get a chance to make up for lost innings in the AFL. He’s got a chance to pitch in the majors as a starter next year, although he will most likely be a depth option out of Triple-A since he has options remaining. But as we’ve seen this year, you need depth, and sometimes plenty of it. If Irwin can stay healthy, there’s a good chance he’ll be making a start or two in the majors next year.