Corey Kluber

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Corey Scott Kluber

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Biographical Information[edit]

Corey Kluber was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 4th round of the 2007 amateur draft. He was signed by scout Joe Bochy and made his pro debut that summer, and had also been noticed by Padres' scouting director, Bill Gayton, who immediately recognized his potential even though he was quite raw at the time. He had mixed results in the Padres' minor league system from 2007 to 2010, with records of 6-8, 4.90 in 2008 and 9-13, 4.56 in 2010, split among various affiliates. He was pitching better than he had ever been at the start of 2010 when he 6-6, 3.45 in 22 games for the san Antonio Missions of the AA Texas League.

At the trading deadline in 2010, he was sent to the Cleveland Indians in the three-team deal that sent P Jake Westbrook from the Indians to the St. Louis Cardinals and OF Ryan Ludwick from St. Louis to San Diego. He was assigned first to the AA Akron Aeros, then after 5 starts reached AAA for the first time with the Columbus Clippers. He found more success as he switched from a four-seam fastball to a two-seam fastball, getting a natural sinking movement on the pitch as a result. It took him another year to reach the major leagues, as he first spent a season in the starting rotation at Columbus in 2011, with so-so results: he went 7-11, 5.56 in 27 starts. His big league debut came on September 1st when he pitched an inning and a third in relief without giving up a run to the Oakland A's in a 7-0 loss. He also kept a clean sheet in his next outing, but on September 26th, he allowed 4 runs in 2 innings in a 14-0 drubbing by the Detroit Tigers and as a result ended up with an ERA of 8.31 in 4 1/3 innings.

Kluber was back in the minors at the start of 2012 where he had had his best season in the minors, going 11-7 with a 3.59 ERA in 21 starts for Columbus. He was called up to Cleveland in early August and immediately inserted in the starting rotation. He made 12 starts with a record of 2-5, 5.14, pitching 63 innings and giving up 76 hits. He had a good strikeout to walk rate, however, at 54/18, giving a hint that he would improve with a bit more experience. He earned his first win on September 3rd, after losing his first three decisions, when he defeated the Tigers, 3-2, giving up 2 runs in 6 innings. He made a couple of starts in AAA at the beginning of 2013, then after a couple of relief appearances was inserted in the starting rotation for good when he started the second game of a doubleheader on April 28th. He went on to make 24 starts for the Indians, missing most of August to an injury. He was solid when he played, putting up a record of 11-5 with a 3.85 ERA and striking out 136 over 147 1/3 innings, walking only 33. He was 4-0, 3.78 over 9 second-half starts, helping the Indians to an unexpected wild card slot, especially after ace Justin Masterson was unavailable down the stretch. He attributed his success to having developed a two-seam sinker that he managed to throw consistently for strikes.

Corey finally made the Indians' opening day roster in 2014 and was a part of the starting rotation from the get-go. On April 24th, he pitched the first complete game of his career when he defeated the Kansas City Royals, 5-1, the only run being unearned, giving up only 4 hits. He had a career-best 11 strikeouts that day, and showed his typical excellent control as he walked none. The last Indians pitcher to strike out 10 or more batters while giving up no walks or earned runs in a complete game had been Len Barker when he had pitched a perfect game on May 15, 1981. On May 4th, he struck out seven straight Chicago White Sox batters between the 3rd and 5th innings, setting a new club record; he improved his personal best set only ten days earlier by striking out 13 that day, in 8 innings, but he was a victim of a blown save by John Axford and had to settle for a no-decision as Cleveland lost, 4-3. He was absolutely masterful on July 30th when, Greg Maddux-like, he needed only 85 pitches to shut out the Seattle Mariners and ace Felix Hernandez on a three-hitter, 2-0. The Indians had traded Masterson earlier that day, confirming Corey's position as the team's new pitching ace. He finished his season with a flourish, pitching 8 scoreless innings and striking out 11 in defeating the Tampa Bay Rays, 1-0, to finish with a record of 18-9, 2.44 and 2.69 strikeouts. His performance helped the Indians set a new major league record for most strikeouts in a season with 1,450. He was named the American League's Pitcher of the Month for September, on the basis of a 5-1 record, a 2.09 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 43 innings. He finished the year with a record of 18-9, 244, with 269 strikeouts and was voted the winner of the 2014 American League Cy Young Award, beating out Hernandez in a close vote.

While most athletes dream of seeing their face one day on the cover of Sports Illustrated, a box of Wheaties, or on a popular video game, Kluber had a rarer distinction in 2015 as his was on the cover of the April issue of Popular Mechanics, to illustrate an article about how to perform various tasks, his specialty being throwing a curveball. He had a rough start to the year however, as he was 0-5 with a 5.04 ERA before earning his first win on May 13th. That game was a beauty as he struck out 18 members of the Cardinals while giving up only 1 hit and not walking anyone in 8 innings in a 2-0 win. The 18 strikeouts matched the Cleveland team record for a nine-inning game set by Bob Feller in 1938, and were the most by any American League pitcher since Roger Clemens had also whiffed 18 in 1998. He could have attempted to the major league record of 20 in a game, but after using 113 pitches to get through 8 innings, he did not return for the 9th as Cody Allen earned the save. His game score of 98 tied for best in franchise history, with Len Barker's 1981 perfect game and Dennis Eckersley's no-hitter in 1977; no other major league pitcher had ever reached such a high game score in no more than 8 innings. He also set a record for most strikeouts by any pitcher against the Cardinals, beating the 17 registered by Dazzy Vance in 1925. In his next start on May 18th, he was matched up against Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox in a classic duel of aces, striking out 12 in 9 innings while giving up only one run on 5 hits. Sale matched him however, allowing only a run in 8 innings, and the Sox ended up winning the game, 2-1, in 10 innings after both pitchers had left the game. Corey then went on to win his next two starts, striking out 20 in 15 innings while giving up 4 earned runs, giving an indication that he was back to being his old dominating self. On August 9th, facing the Minnesota Twins, he did not allow a hit until Joe Mauer hit a two-out single in the 7th and ended up tossing a complete game for an 8-1 win. On August 14th, facing the Twins again, he pitched a complete game one-hitter in a 6-1 win, with only a solo homer by Mauer keeping him from a no-hit game. He ended the season at 9-16, 3.49, leading the AL in both losses and complete games and striking out 245 in 222 innings.

On May 4, 2016, he pitched his second career shutout in a 4-0 win over the Detroit Tigers. He made his first All-Star team that season when he was named a replacement for injured pitcher Marco Estrada. He kept getting better as the season advanced and in August, he was named the AL Pitcher of the Month after going 5-0, 2.43 in 6 starts, helping the Indians consolidate their lead atop the AL Central. He went 18-9, 3.14 on the year, with 227 strikeouts in 215 innings. He continued to pitch well in his first taste of the postseason: in Game 2 of the ALDS, he sut out the Boston Red Sox for seven innings to earn a 6-0 win. He then started and won Game 1 of the ALCS over the Toronto Blue Jays, 2-0, before being a loser in Game 5. In the 2016 World Series, he dominated the Chicago Cubs in his first two starts, in Game 1 and Game 5, winning 5-0 and 7-2 respectively. In Game 7 on November 2nd, manager Terry Francona, short of reliable starting pitching, gambled on sending him in on short rest again, and this time he gave up 4 runs in 4 innings, before the epic game was decided in extra innings.

On April 21, 2017, he pitched a three-hitter to defeat the Chicago White Sox, 3-0, facing only two batters over the minimum in his fourth career shutout.

Kluber is known as a no-nonsense player with a strong drive, who rarely smiles on days he is slated to pitch, earning himself the nickname "Klubot", a contraction of his last name and "robot". Bill Gayton, who scouted him back at Stetson described him as "very, very serious". He had trouble believing that Kluber was "fun to be around", as his college coach, Pete Dunn, insisted. He also has an outstanding work ethic and a willingness to listen to advice, which allowed him to develop his raw talent into polished major league pitching skills.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • AL All-Star (2016)
  • 2014 AL Cy Young Award
  • AL Wins Leader (2014)
  • AL Complete Games Leader (2015)
  • AL Shutouts Leader (2016)
  • 15 Wins Seasons: 2 (2014 & 2016)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 3 (2014-2016)
  • 200 Strikeouts Seasons: 3 (2014-2016)

AL Cy Young Award
2013 2014 2015
Max Scherzer Corey Kluber Dallas Keuchel

Further Reading[edit]

  • Jordan Bastian: "Kluber's trek to stardom slow and steady: Former Padres farm director Gayton knew right-hander was special",, November 17, 2014. [1]
  • Lindsay Berra: "Kluber a workhorse even in offseason: Ace training hard, hoping Indians can 'finish it off' in 2017",, February 3, 2017. [2]

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