Though he turned in a quality start Sunday against a tough Red Sox offense, Plutko will head to the bullpen with the Indians making room in the rotation for Josh Tomlin and Carlos Carrasco after both pitched in relief in their previous outings. Since Tomlin will start Thursday's series opener on only three days' rest, he likely won't work deep into the outing. That may allow Plutko to piggyback Tomlin in the game, but manager Terry Francona hasn't formally announced his plans after Tomlin exits.
Plutko allowed three earned runs on five hits and three walks while striking out two across six innings Sunday against the Red Sox. He did not factor into the decision.
Plutko turned in his first quality start since Aug. 18, though he wasn't overly impressive, walking more batters than he struck out. After making his last appearance out of the bullpen, Plutko got the chance to start again as the Indians elected to give their top pitchers a few extra days of rest prior to the playoffs. The 26-year-old has been fairly effective in his rookie campaign -- he has a 5.21 ERA and 1.30 WHIP across 76 innings -- but has struggled with the long ball, surrendering 2.4 HR/9.
Plutko will start Sunday's game against the Red Sox, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports.
It appeared that Plutko would finish the regular season in the bullpen after Josh Tomlin returned to a starting role Sept. 14, but there will be room for both pitchers in the rotation temporarily as the Indians look to afford more rest to their top arms heading into the postseason. With Plutko added to the pitching schedule this week, Corey Kluber will be denied a two-start week and instead make his next turn Monday against the White Sox, which should keep the Cleveland ace in line to start Game 1 or 2 of the team's ALDS series. The Tribe also intends to use Carlos Carrasco out of the bullpen Tuesday, so it's possible Plutko could be called upon for another start during its four-game set in Kansas City next weekend.
Plutko made a relief appearance in Sunday's 6-4 loss to the Tigers, working around two base hits to toss a scoreless ninth inning.
Plutko's previous five outings had come as a starter, with the right-hander turning in a 6.26 ERA and 1.35 WHIP across 27.1 innings during that stretch. While there hasn't been any formal announcement of Plutko's removal from the rotation, that appears to be a safe conclusion to draw since he hasn't started since Sept. 8. Moreover, Josh Tomlin was summoned from the bullpen to make a spot start over the weekend and is scheduled to take the hill again Thursday against the White Sox, according to Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times. With Tomlin now looking like the Tribe's new No. 5 starter, expect Plutko to fill a mop-up role in relief over the final two weeks of the regular season.
Plutko allowed five runs on nine hits while striking out four across 4.2 innings Saturday against the Blue Jays. He didn't factor into the decision.
Plutko got knocked around in this one, serving up six extra-base hits -- three doubles and three homers -- before exiting with two outs in the fifth inning and an 8-5 lead. He's now allowed nine runs through two starts (10.2 innings) in September, though he does own a solid 12:0 K:BB in those outings. Plutko figures to stick in the rotation until Trevor Bauer (ankle) returns later in the month. Next up will be a home start against the Tigers.
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