Update: May 19, 2015 at 11:45 am PT
Corey Kluber made his first start on Monday. Well, it was his first start since his epic 18 strikeout performance. After a very slow start, which you can read about below, the 2014 Cy Young Award winner had everyone wondering if that performance meant that the 2014 Kluber had returned.
It turns out that Kluber may have turned the corner from his earlier struggles. He struck out the first five White Sox batters he faced on Monday. He pitched a full nine innings allowing five hits, one run, one walk and struck out a total of 12 White Sox batters.
Unfortunately, his opponent lefty Chris Sale pitched almost as well, only allowing a single run. The game went into extra innings and the Indians were defeated by a score of 2-1. However, the team can take away something positive from this loss. Their Cy Young pitcher appears to be back.
Of course, we will have to keep watching Kluber to know for sure but shutting down 12 batters is good enough for me. At least for now.
Original Text: May 14, 2015 at 10 pm PT
Everyone’s been waiting for the real Corey Kluber to stand up and show us where he’s been all season long. It appears that he may have done that Wednesday while pitching against the team with the league’s best record, the St. Louis Cardinals.
Through seven starts prior to Wednesday, the reigning Cy Young Award winner hadn’t been himself, or at least who the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) voters thought he was when they gave the coveted award to him instead of “King” Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners last season.
In his first seven starts of 2015, Kluber had pitched into the seventh inning just twice and in his last two starts had barely gotten past the fifth inning. His ERA was, until his start Wednesday, was up to 5.04. He had allowed 51 hits and 25 earned runs in just 44.2 innings.
There’d been talk around the league. Was last year a fluke for the 29-year-old right-hander? Were his three complete games, 2.44 ERA and league leading 18 wins just a stroke of good luck?
Hernandez led Kluber and the league in ERA by quite a bit, posting a 2.14 ERA on the season. Should he have won the honor of the being the American League’s best pitcher?
After seven starts and an ERA over five, those questions are valid ones. However Wednesday, those questions were seemingly answered, those doubts about Kluber assuaged at least for the time being.
In Wednesday’s game against the Cardinals Kluber looked like the Cy Young Award winner he is and then more. Kluber struck out an amazing 18 St. Louis Cardinals’ hitters.
The all-time single game strikeout record is 20, a milestone Roger Clemens did twice and Kerry Wood of the Chicago Cubs did back on May 6, 1998, a game I am lucky enough to say that I was in attendance for at Wrigley Field (how random is that? But it’s one of those days you don’t soon forget).
However, Kluber had too many pitches (113) to continue when he was taken out in the 8th inning so he didn’t have the opportunity to join Roger Clemens and Kerry Wood. He did join Indians’ Hall of Famer Bob Feller as the only Cleveland pitcher to strike out 18 pitchers in a nine inning game. Feller had held the record since 1938, he now shares it with Kluber.
Over the weekend New York Yankees’ pitcher Micheal Pineda made headlines for striking out 16 Baltimore Orioles batters, almost tying the Yankees’ single game record of 18 set by Ron Guidry in 1978.
Kluber wiped those headlines out as he showed the baseball world that he is the kind of pitcher they believed last year that he can be.
Now, there is still the importance of that fact that it is one out of eight starts that Kluber has made this year. There is always the chance that this was a fluke. However it appears more likely, given the way Kluber pitched in 2014, that he’d been struggling and may have overcome those struggles.
Truly? Only time will tell. I know I can’t wait for Kluber’s next start! Can you?
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