The following statement is a fact, Corey Kluber is the ace of the Cleveland Indians.
Is it possible for one pitcher to lead his team to the playoffs? If you’re as good as him, then yes, it’s possible.
In 2014, Kluber has turned a corner, and has become one of the best pitchers in baseball. He is on par with baseball’s elite. He has amassed 187 strikeouts. In addition to his strikeout totals, Cleveland’s ace sits near the top of the league in many other categories as well.
The 28-year-old pitcher ranks eighth in MLB with a 2.46 ERA, and is tied for first in the American League with 13 wins.
Unfortunately for Kluber, and the Indians, they play in the top-heavy A.L. Central. The Kansas City Royals and the Detroit Tigers are battling it out for top billing in the division, while Cleveland fights for a playoff spot.
The Indians aren’t considered an offensive juggernaut, and they have only two consistent options on offense, Michael Brantley and Yan Gomes. Carlos Santana, Jason Kipnis and Nick Swisher are all experiencing down years. All three have to be more productive in order for the Indians to stay in the playoff race.
Cleveland does not have a stable starting rotation. The Indians are using a rotation of Kluber, Trevor Bauer, T.J. House, and Carlos Carrasco. The rest of this rotation has been mediocre throughout the season.
Kluber is single-handedly keeping the team in the hunt with his success.
The curveball is a huge part of his success. Scouts say his curveball is one of the most effective pitches in baseball, yielding an opponent slugging percentage of .101. It has become his most effective pitch. His breaking ball finishes opposing batters 39 percent of the time when there are two strikes in the count.
Besides Kluber himself, there has been an unheralded factor in his progress.
Mickey Calloway can share some of the pride. Calloway, who has been the team’s pitching coach since 2013, encouraged Kluber to believe in his fastball. He convinced Kluber to throw more two-seam fastballs, and create more deception to his pitches.
The improvements have shown, as his K/9 rate has increased from an average 8.3 in 2013, to a remarkable 9.8 in 2014.
Kluber’s crowning achievement came on July 29th against the Seattle Mariners. He outplayed Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez. Kluber not only out-dueled a Cy Young candidate, but he threw a complete game in under 100 pitches.
The feat is so rare, it has been accomplished by only seven pitchers in Indians history. In addition to his amazing pitch count, Kluber also threw 69 strikes. It is one game though, and the team needs to step it up if they want to make the post-season once again.
The Indians are no strangers to late season heroics.
Last season, the team led by Ubaldo Jimenez, pulled off 10 straight wins to earn their first playoff berth since 2007. So it is definitely not impossible for a pitcher like Kluber to spark the Indians like Ubaldo did. The team clearly believes in their new ace.
During a recent game in Kansas City, Calloway stated that he feels Kluber has the potential to throw a no-hitter every night. While Kluber has never thrown a no-hitter, it’s that kind of confidence from your coaches that sets you up for success.
Corey Kluber is without a doubt, the new ace of the Cleveland Indians.
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