The Indians’ front office has assembled two-fifths of a rotation with a pair of under-the-radar moves, first by sending outfielder Austin Kearns to the Yankees on July 30, 2010, that eventually netted Zach McAllister and then acquiring fellow right-hander Corey Kluber in a three-team deal the next day.
And while McAllister’s success has been somewhat predictable — he debuted in Triple-A at the age of 22 — Kluber’s really transformed himself into a good major league pitcher, one that’s probably better than most people realize.
After spinning a gem Tuesday night against the Rangers — 8.0 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 3 K’s, and 3 BB’s — Kluber’s numbers through nearly 60 innings of work are beginning to stand out as the team’s top starting pitcher. Through 11 appearances this season (nine of which are starts), the former Stetson University alum is averaging 8.95 K/9 to just 1.88 BB/9, making his strikeout-to-walk ratio the ninth best in the AL, ahead of several noticeable names including: Justin Verlander, Chris Sale, C.C. Sabathia and Jake Peavy.
Kluber’s Skill Independent ERA, or SIERA, stands at 3.10, a mark that not only leads Tribe starting pitchers (by a rather large margin), but also ranks as the ninth best in the AL. And, yes, while his work this season is a bit limited, his career big league totals — 8.37 K/9, 2.38 BB/9 and 3.54 SIERA — are just as impressive in 124.2 innings. Plus, look at his minor league peripherals: 9.1 K/9 3.6 BB/9.
Now is he as good as he’s been this season? Well, no. But he’s more than just swing-man-type fodder too.
Last August, I wrote about Kluber’s long term potential, saying he should be worth about 1.5- to 2.0-wins above replacement in a full year, essentially making him an above-average #4. And the big right-hander’s done nothing to dispel that so far.
As for Tuesday night, Kluber stopped the Tribe’s eight-game losing streak with another solid performance, this time coming against a tough Texas lineup. And despite having thrown just 104 pitches through eight innings (69 strikes), he could have easily gone out for what could have been his first career complete game.
As for the Tribe’s offense, it’s just the second time in the last nine games that it’s scratched out five or more runs. Center fielder and leadoff hitter — at least for last night — Drew Stubbs went 1 for 5 with a pair of RBIs, and Nick Swisher and Mark Reynolds looked to be shaking out of their respective slumps.
Cleveland looks to take the series tonight, as right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez toes the rubber against Texas rookie Nick Tepesch. Game time’s 8:00 PM.
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