With a pair of one-run outings and two wins last week, Columbus starting pitcher Adam Plutko was named the International League’s Pitcher of the Week for games between August 15 and 21. Plutko was joined by Norfolk outfielder Christian Walker in receiving one of the league’s two weekly honors.
Plutko is the first Clippers pitcher to be honored this season. He joins two-time Batter of the Week Giovanny Urshela (April 25-May 1 and August 1-7) and Futures Game participant Yandy Diaz (July 18-24) in receiving a weekly award from the International League this year.
The 24-year-old right-hander made a pair of starts over the course of the week and came away victorious in both outings.
Last Monday, he received two early runs of support from his teammates and shut down the Durham Bulls for each of the first five innings before allowing a run in the sixth. He left with two outs that inning and finished the game with just one run allowed on six hits. He walked one and struck out eight, matching his Triple-A high (previously set on August 5) while earning his fifth win with the Clippers.
He followed up the outing with another strong effort and a quality start on Sunday as the Clippers hosted the Toledo Mud Hens in Columbus. He faced the minimum in the second, third, and fourth innings before a sacrifice fly in the fifth tied the game after a Toledo one-out triple. The Clippers reclaimed the lead in the bottom half and Plutko preserved it, despite two singles and a walk by Toledo to load the bases with two outs in the top of the sixth. As with his previous start, he struck out the final batter he faced in a game-changing moment in the contest, one that Columbus would hold on to win 3-1.
Between the two starts, Plutko struck out 13 batters in eleven and two-thirds innings and allowed just two runs, 12 hits, and three walks for the week.
It has been a rapid ascent to the Triple-A level for Plutko, who began his professional career after being selected in the eleventh round by the Indians in the 2013 draft out of UCLA.
He made his first pro appearances in 2014 and split the season between Class-A Lake County and High-A Carolina, posting a 7-10 record in 28 starts with a 4.03 ERA. Last season, he worked eight games for High-A Lynchburg before advancing to Double-A Akron, where he wrapped up his yearly numbers with a 13-7 record, a 2.39 ERA, and a 0.93 WHIP in 27 starts.
Plutko began this year, his third season in the Indians organization, with the Double-A RubberDucks, making 13 starts and going 3-3 with a 3.27 ERA and 1.06 WHIP prior to his promotion.
He started his Columbus tenure strong before a brief three-game rough streak at the beginning of July. He has since pulled it back together and has posted a half dozen strong starts in a row, including four quality appearances. He has not allowed more than two earned runs in any of those six games. In his lone loss in that six-game stretch, he took a perfect game into the eighth inning after retiring the first 22 batters in order.
He has earned wins in each of his last four starts. He has claimed a perfect 4-0 record in four August starts with a 2.31 ERA and 1.33 WHIP.
Photo: Jonathan Quilter/The Columbus Dispatch