ALTOONA, Pa. — It was no surprise the Indians had three players named to the International League All-Star team last week in pitchers Mitch Keller, Dovydas Neverauskas and Montana DuRapau.
What was a surprise is they were able to sustain their success despite being shuttled between Indianapolis and Pittsburgh, where they each had little success.
Keller made his MLB debut May 27, and he gutted through four innings after giving up six earned runs in the first inning. He was demoted the following day.
After his first cup of coffee in the bigs, Keller returned to form in Triple-A despite a loss to Gwinnett in his next outing. The Cedar Rapids, Iowa, native went six innings allowing only two runs on three hits while striking out five. Keller struck out 13 in five innings against Toledo his next time out before rejoining the Pirates.
His second stint with Pittsburgh lasted a little longer for the former second-round pick as he earned two starts, the first of which was a dud when he allowed 10 hits and six earned runs to Atlanta. Keller had his best major-league start in his most recent outing for the Pirates before a subsequent demotion. He yielded two earned runs on four hits, striking out six.
After returning to Indianapolis from his most recent foray in Pittsburgh, Keller has gone 1-1 while pitching 12.1 innings and allowing only two earned runs. He’s also struck out eight and walked two in that timespan.
Having a short memory has helped Keller return to form when with the Indians, for whom he is 6-2 with a 2.82 ERA in 13 games. Opponents are hitting .243 in Triple-A against Keller and .389 in the majors, which will continue to go down as Keller gets better and accustomed to the major-league level.
Neverauskas has the most experience at the major-league level, having made his debut in 2017 and being recalled in 2018, as well. This year, however, Neverauskas has struggled in the seven appearances he’s made, as opponents are currently hitting .321 against the Lithuanian reliever.
Neverauskas, a right-hander has had only two blemishes in his 2019 campaign with the Pirates — outings where he gave up two and five runs respectively. Since allowing those five runs on four hits against St. Louis on May 9, he’s allowed only three hits and no runs in his past four major-league outings, dropping his ERA to 9.95.
In his time with Indianapolis, Neverauskas has gone 1-1 with a 2.31 ERA in 19 games with opponents hitting .212 off him in Triple-A. For Neverauskas, his play of late at both levels has shown tremendous strides in being able to get opponents out and keep runs off the board, which bodes well for any reliever.
DuRapau was the opposite of Neverauskas, starting off well with a 1.35 ERA in his first five appearances for the Pirates, allowing only one earned run. In his past four major-league outings, the Bethune-Cookman product has allowed nine earned runs and his ERA has ballooned to 9.31 on the season.
While with the Pirates, DuRapau was used as an opener for two games in which he gave up three earned runs in 2.2 innings. In the seven innings he’s been used as a reliever, DuRapau has allowed a total of seven earned runs on 10 hits.
With the Indians, DuRapau has solely appeared as a reliever and flourished, not having allowed an earned run since June 2 when he gave up two of the three he’s allowed this year. DuRapau isn’t a power pitcher by any means, but he fits the pitching to contact mold the Pirates love. When used in the right role, he’s proven he can be effective and can get hitters out at the highest level.
The Tribe’s trio of all-stars has proven they belong in the International League midsummer classic, not just by their performance on the field but also being able to withstand and overcome the rigors of being sent up and sent down from the big league club numerous times.
TRIBE’S TOP HITTERS
Here’s who I’ve identified as the Indians’ top hitters over the past week:
Cole Tucker, INF — 8 for 24 (.333) with two doubles and a stolen base.
Trayvon Robinson, OF — 6 for 18 (.333) with a home run, three runs and three RBIs.
TRIBE’S TOP PITCHERS
Top starting performance: Mitch Keller allowed just one run on six hits in a victory against Louisville. He struck out six while failing to yield a walk. He’s 6-2 with a 2.89 ERA this season in Triple-A.
Top reliever: Dovydas Neverauskas appeared in one game last week before being called up to Pittsburgh. He threw 1.1 innings of scoreless baseball in relief, striking out one and allowing a hit in the process. His ERA currently sits at 2.13 on the season.
THE ROSTER MOVES/INJURIES
6/24: OF/Assistant hitting coach Jon Schwind transferred from High-A Bradenton to Indianapolis, placed on the 7-day injured list with a left shoulder strain.
RHP Mitch Keller is wearing No. 18.
RHP Jordan Lyles is wearing No. 19.
6/26: RHP Dario Agrazal recalled by Pittsburgh.
6/27: RHP JT Brubaker returns to Indianapolis (6/26) from minor league rehab assignment with Short-Season A West Virginia, remains on injured list with right elbow inflammation. RHP Dovydas Neverauskas recalled by Pittsburgh.
6/27: UTIL Jake Elmore reinstated from 7-day injured list. OF Jason Martin optioned by Pittsburgh (6/26), active in Indianapolis.
6/28: UTIL Nick Franklin released by Pittsburgh. INF Erik Gonzalez begins major league rehab assignment with Indianapolis.
6/29: RHP Jordan Lyles ends major league rehab assignment with Indianapolis. INF Ke’Bryan Hayes begins minor league rehab assignment with WVBB. UTIL Pablo Reyes begins minor league rehab assignment with WVBB.
INF Hunter Owen placed on 7-day Injured List with a left hand contusion.
6/30: RHP Dario Agrazal optioned by Pittsburgh (6/27), active in Indianapolis.
It was a less than ideal week for the Indians. They went 2-5 to bring their overall record to 41-39 on the season. After opening the week with back-to-back wins against Louisville, Indianapolis lost its next five games by a combined 23-9. The Indians head to Louisville for a three-game set before returning home to host Toledo for a five-game series beginning Thursday.