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2019 Saves Leaders Anchor Projected Tribe Bullpen

Minor league signings join returning relief arms for 2020
Right-hander Montana DuRapau led the Tribe with 10 saves in 2019. (Photo by Austin Friedline)
March 3, 2020

INDIANAPOLIS – The Tribe bullpen ended 2019 atop the International League leaderboard with 43 saves and looks to continue that success in its upcoming campaign. Many familiar faces from last season’s squad will return to the Circle City while minor league signings and hurlers from Double-A Altoona could help anchor

INDIANAPOLIS – The Tribe bullpen ended 2019 atop the International League leaderboard with 43 saves and looks to continue that success in its upcoming campaign. Many familiar faces from last season’s squad will return to the Circle City while minor league signings and hurlers from Double-A Altoona could help anchor the middle innings.

RHPs

Blake Cederlind: The hard-throwing right-hander began 2019 between Advanced-A Bradenton and Double-A Altoona with a combined 1.69 ERA (10er/53.1ip) and 50 strikeouts. He was promoted to Indianapolis at the end of August and made just three appearances with five earned runs allowed in 6.0 innings. At 24 years old, Cederlind is known for his velocity and can be a late-inning weapon for the Tribe as he commands his pitches at the Triple-A level.

Montana DuRapau: Indianapolis’ reigning 2019 Reliever of the Year led the club with a perfect 10 saves in 10 opportunities, ranking third among IL league leaders (Pawtucket’s Trevor Kelley and Durham’s Hoby Milner tied for first with 12). After compiling a 0.63 ERA (1er/14.1ip) from April 5-May 5, DuRapau had his contract selected by Pittsburgh and made his major league debut on May 9 at St. Louis (2.0ip, 3h, 1r, 1k). The right-hander went 2-1 with a 2.14 ERA (11er/46.1ip) and owned a team-leading 16.1 inning scoreless streak from July 13-Sept. 1 for the Tribe.

Matt Eckelman: After leading all Pirates farmhands with 23 saves a year ago, Eckelman will likely earn the opportunity to improve his Triple-A numbers this upcoming season. All but three of his 48 appearances in 2019 were with Altoona, where he had 45 strikeouts and a 3.33 ERA (18er/48.2ip). He allowed three earned runs without recording an out in his Triple-A debut on May 10 and was reassigned to Altoona days later. Eckelman returned to Indianapolis on Aug. 29 and allowed just one run in his final two appearances.

Luis Escobar: Escobar appeared with Indianapolis as both a starter and a reliever in 2019. He was promoted to Triple-A in May after allowing just six hits over 13.1 scoreless innings with Bradenton. He compiled a 2.72 ERA (11er/36.1ip) over 13 games (five starts) with Indianapolis before having his contract selected by Pittsburgh and making his MLB debut on July 13 at Chicago (NL). After being optioned back to Indianapolis, his command waivered and he finished with a 6.75 ERA (14er/18.2ip) in his final 11 games. Escobar will look to return to his early 2019 dominance and regain his position on the Pirates 40-man roster.

Geoff Hartlieb: Due to injuries with the big-league club, Hartlieb’s 2019 season was split between Indianapolis and Pittsburgh. He made his major league debut on May 18 and tossed one scoreless inning at San Diego. After his first stint with the Pirates, he improved on his 3.32 Triple-A ERA (7er/19.0ip) and allowed just four earned runs in his final 20.2 innings with Indianapolis. Over the course of the season, he made 26 Triple-A appearances and registered a 2.50 ERA (11er/39.2ip) in comparison to his 9.00 ERA (35er/35.0ip) with the Pirates.

Beau Sulser: After a stellar 2019 campaign with Altoona, Sulser could finally break through to Indianapolis. He went 8-3 with the Double-A club and compiled a 2.72 ERA (29er/96.0ip). His strikeout-to-walk ratio was down last season (2.03) compared to his impeccable 2017 and 2018 combined ratio (8.73). If he can strengthen his control in spring training, Sulser could add depth to Indy’s bullpen.

LHPs

Miguel Del Pozo: After making his major league debut with Los Angeles (AL) in August, Del Pozo was signed by Pittsburgh as a minor league free agent in the offseason. He began 2019 in the Texas organization with Triple-A Nashville and struck out 65 batters with a 5.12 ERA (26er/45.2ip). He was traded to the Angels on Aug. 9 in exchange for cash and went 1-1 with a 10.61 ERA (11er/9.1ip) in 17 major league games.

Sam Howard: Howard was claimed off waivers from Colorado this offseason and could bring more veteran experience to Indy’s bullpen. He has spent parts of the past three seasons in the Pacific Coast League and owns a 4.39 career ERA (111er/227.2ip) in Triple-A. In 2019, he went 4-1 with 62 strikeouts in 50.2 innings for Triple-A Albuquerque and made 20 appearances with Colorado, as well.

Williams Jerez: Jerez saw success in both Triple-A and the major leagues in 2019. With Triple-A Sacramento, he held opponents to a career-low .215 batting average (46-for-214) when pitching at least 15.0 innings with one team. After compiling a 2.70 ERA (2er/6.2ip) in six appearances with San Francisco, Jerez was claimed off waivers by Pittsburgh on Sept. 13 and allowed three runs in 3.2 innings through the end of the season.

Sean Keselica: The southpaw setup man did not allow an earned run in his first 12.1 innings of 2019 between Altoona and Indy. Keselica was promoted to Indianapolis for the remainder of the season on May 4 and compiled a 1.98 ERA (3er/13.2ip) in June. He lost his command in July and August to finish with a 4.33 ERA (25er/52.0ip), 33 walks and 49 strikeouts in 29 total appearances with the Tribe.

Blake Weiman: Weiman excelled in 16 Altoona appearances to open his 2019 campaign, 14 of which were scoreless. After compiling a 1.86 ERA (4er/19.1ip) with the Curve, Weiman was promoted to Indianapolis on June 18. He had a 3.86 ERA (4er/9.1ip) with the Tribe before being placed on the injured list on July 12 and battling the rest of the season with a strain and tendonitis in his left shoulder. A return to full health would bode well for both Weiman and Indy’s bullpen.