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Corey Kluber

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Corey Scott Kluber

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[edit] Biographical Information

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.

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.

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • 2014 AL Cy Young Award
  • AL Wins Leader (2014)
  • 15 Wins Seasons: 1 (2014)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 1 (2014)
  • 200 Strikeouts Seasons: 1 (2014)

AL Cy Young Award
2013 2014 2015
Max Scherzer Corey Kluber

[edit] Further Reading

  • Jordan Bastian: "Kluber's trek to stardom slow and steady: Former Padres farm director Gayton knew right-hander was special",, November 17, 2014. [1]

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