WEST LAFAYETTE — Purdue baseball alumni Nick Wittgren and Josh Lindblom helped pitch their clubs into Major League Baseball’s postseason.
Wittgren (2011-12) and the Cleveland Indians earned the No. 4 seed in the American League playoffs. Lindblom (2007-08) and the Milwaukee Brewers are the No. 8 seed on the National League side of the bracket. In the new best-of-three first round this week, Cleveland hosts the New York Yankees and Milwaukee travels west to take on the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Highlighted by a four-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox from Sept. 21 to 24, Cleveland won nine of its final 11 games to earn home-field advantage in the first round. Wittgren helped his club lead the American League with a 3.29 team ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 621 strikeouts. Wittgren led the Indians with 10 holds in his 25 relief appearances. He also racked up 28 strikeouts vs. six walks and a 1.01 WHIP in 23 2/3 innings pitched.
Lindblom posted a streak of 13 consecutive scoreless innings from Sept. 1 to 20, highlighted by solid outings in starts vs. St. Louis on Sept. 14 and Kansas City on Sept. 20. The Brewers won both games during a week in which they went 6-2. In his first season with Milwaukee, he racked up 52 strikeouts vs. 42 hits allowed in 45 1/3 innings. Ten of his 12 appearances came as a starter.
Wittgren and Lindblom are in line to become the first Boilermakers to play in an MLB postseason game since Archi Cianfrocco (1987) in 1996 with the San Diego Padres. Kevin Plawecki (2010-12) was the Mets backup catcher during New York’s run to the 2015 World Series, but did not see action in a game.
As teammates last season, Wittgren and Plawecki helped Cleveland win 93 games but the club was still left out of the five-team AL postseason field.
Now with the Boston Red Sox, Plawecki enjoyed a career year offensively. He batted .341 (28-for-82) with seven extra-base hits and 17 RBI, recording three three-hit games and more RBI than strikeouts.
Patrick J. Smith (2018-19) and Alec Olund (2015-18) were also active in pro ball this season. Smith was drafted by the Kansas City Royals and pitched in the Appalachian League in 2019. With the Minor League Baseball season getting canceled, Smith made a temporary move to independent ball and pitched for the Sugar Land Lightning Sloths of the Constellation Energy League, a league in Texas organized by the Sugar Land Skeeters (of the Atlantic League). Olund played his second season in the United Shore Professional Baseball League in suburban Detroit. He was an outfielder for both the Birmingham Bloomfield Beavers and Westside Woolly Mammoths this summer.