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. He went 3-1 in April, but after losing his first start in May, he was placed on the disabled list with a lower back strain and missed the remainder of the month. He returned on June 1st with a strong performance, pitching 6 scoreless innings in an 8-0 win over the Oakland Athletics. He recorded another three-hit shutout on June 19th, this one against the Baltimore Orioles, 12-0, to consolidate Cleveland's newly acquired lead in the AL Central. He won AL Pitcher of the Month honors for June, after going 4-0, 1.26, in 6 starts, with 64 Ks in 43 innings. He was also named to the All-Star team for the second straight year in spite of the time missed. On July 4th, he set a new franchise mark with his fifth consecutive double-digit strikeout game, but it came in a 1-0 loss to the San Diego Padres. He was again the AL Pitcher of the Month in August, when he went 5-1, 1.96 in 6 starts coinciding with the Indians pulling away from their pursuers in the AL Central. On September 7th, he defeated the White Sox, 11-2, striking out 13 in 7 innings as the Indians recorded a franchise-record 15th consecutive win. In his next turn on the mound, on September 12th, he pitched a five-hit shutout to down the Detroit Tigers, 2-0, thereby allowing Cleveland to tie the 2002 Oakland Athletics for the longest winning streak in American League history at 20 victories. He repeated as AL Pitcher of the Month in September after going 5-0, 0.84 with a K/W ratio of 50/3. He finished the season at 18-4, 2.25, with 265 Ks in 203 2/3 innings, leading the AL in both wins and ERA in addition to winning percentage, complete games, shutouts and ERA+. He was named the winner of the Cy Young Award for the second time. In the postseason, however, he was hit hard in both of his starts against the New York Yankees in the Division Series, giving up 6 runs in 2 2/3 innings in Game 2 on October 6th, and 3 runs in 3 2/3 innings in the decisive Game 5 on October 11th; the Indians managed to stage an epic comeback to win Game 2 in extra innings, but could not overcome their early hole and ended up losing the final game, 5-2.

In 2018, Kluber was the first American League pitcher to record 10 wins, doing so when he defeated the Detroit Tigers, 9-2, on June 10th. He was a member of the All-Star team for the third straight year and on September 24th recorded his 20th win, with a 4-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox, the first time he had reached that particular plateau. He was the second major league pitcher to the mark that season, following Blake Snell of the Tampa Bay Rays. He finished the year at 20-7, 2.89, with 222 strikeouts - against just 34 walks - in a league-leading 215 innings. he was one of four Indians starters to record 200 or more strikeouts that year, something unprecedented. He started Game 1 of the Division Series against the Houston Astros on October 5th, but was touched for 4 runs on 6 hits, including 3 long balls, in 4 2/3 innings. He was charged with Cleveland's 7-2 loss and did not have a chance to redeem himself as the Indians were swept in three games.

On May 1, 2019, he was hit on the right arm by a line drive off the bat of Brian Anderson of the Miami Marlins, which resulted in a fracture. He was expected to miss a significant period of time as a result. His record at the time of the injury was 2-3, 5.80 in 7 starts. In the end he was unable to return before the season ended, especially as he had to deal with abdominal tightness during his rehab, and because the Indians were not in the running for a postseason appearance and therefore did not feel the need to rush him back. With the development of a number of young pitchers in his absence, principally Shane Bieber and Zach Plesac, he became available for a trade and on December 15th was sent to the Texas Rangers in return for OF Delino DeShields Jr. and P Emmanuel Clase. He only made one start for Texas in 2020, exiting after one inning when he tore a muscle in his shoulder. He became a free agent after the season, and while there was some concern over his recent health history, he also impressed observers in a showcase outing for scouts. On January 15, 2021 news emerged that the New York Yankees were prepared to sign him for one year at $11 million pending a successful physical exam. Not only did he pass the physical, but he claimed the second spot in the Yankees' rotation at the start of the season. On May 19th, he joined the incredible parade of no-hitters being thrown that season, notching what was already the sixth 9-inning no-hitter of the year, one day after Spencer Turnbull of the Detroit Tigers had pitched one. He defeated the Texas Rangers, 2-0, allowing just one walk while striking out 9. He needed only 101 pitches to complete what was the first no-no thrown by a Yankees pitcher in the 21st Century, and already the second to be thrown at the Rangers' new ballpark, Globe Life Field, following Joe Musgrove of the San Diego Padres on April 9th. He had to leave his next start, against the Toronto Blue Jays on May 25th, after just 3 innings, complaining of shoulder fatigue. He was placed on the injured list and was expected to miss at least two months. In fact, he only returned on August 30th, and made another 6 starts until the end of the year, picking up a win and no loss. Overall, he was 5-3, 3.83 in 16 starts and did not pitch in the postseason as the Yankees were ousted at the Wild Card Game stage.

Following the 2021 season, Kluber signed another one-year free agent contract, this one with the Tampa Bay Rays, in the hope of reestablishing his value as a full-time starting pitcher. The contract called for $8 million to head up a starting rotation otherwise made up of very young if very promising pitchers.

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]

  • 3-time AL All-Star (2016-2018)
  • 2-time AL Cy Young Award (2014 & 2017)
  • AL ERA Leader (2017)
  • 2-time AL Wins Leader (2014 & 2017)
  • AL Winning Percentage Leader (2017)
  • AL Innings Pitched Leader (2018)
  • 3-time AL Complete Games Leader (2015, 2017 & 2018)
  • 3-time AL Shutouts Leader (2016-2018)
  • 15 Wins Seasons: 4 (2014 & 2016-2018)
  • 20 Wins Seasons: 1 (2018)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 5 (2014-2018)
  • 200 Strikeouts Seasons: 5 (2014-2018)

AL Cy Young Award
2013 2014 2015
Max Scherzer Corey Kluber Dallas Keuchel
2016 2017 2018
Rick Porcello Corey Kluber Blake Snell

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]
  • Adam Berry: "Kluber agrees to 1-yr. deal with Rays (source)",, November 28, 2021. [3]
  • Anthony Castrovince: "Kluber's run thrusts him into awards contention",, August 7, 2017. [4]
  • Bryan Hoch: "Yanks add former Cy winner Kluber (source)",, January 15, 2021. [5]
  • Jordan Horrobin: "Kluber throws Yanks' 1st no-hitter this century",, May 20, 2021. [6]
  • Kennedi Landry: "Rangers 'not surprised' by Kluber's no-no",, May 20, 2021. [7]
  • Sarah Langs and Andrew Simon: "High frequency: 10 incredible no-no facts",, May 20, 2021. [8]
  • Jorge L. Ortiz: "Indians' Corey Kluber near-unanimous choice for second AL Cy Young Award", USA Today Sports, November 15, 2017. [9]

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