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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  • The Doctor says:

    obviously it didn’t end up mattering, but I could have strangled Reynolds for that first pitch bases loaded GIDP. the mcclellan’s coming in to a jam and hadn’t even thrown a pitch yet – make him throw it over the plate! it was especially frustrating given that mcclellan’s next inning (and second batter) started with a wild looking 4 pitch walk.

    glad to see swisher got a hit that mattered, but he’s still swinging like he’s trying to hit a 7-run homer every at bat.

  • Steve Alex says:

    It was a get-me-over pitch and Reynolds hit it hard. Can’t really fault it. If it had been in the hole we’d be calling it a clutch hit. As for Kluber, anyone with a 95 MPH fastball and good breaking ball has the chance to be very successful. With Kluber it was always about pitch selection (too many cutters) and pitch location (down the middle), both of which are vastly improved this year.

    • The Doctor says:

      yeah, i acknowledge it’s easy to assess it retrospectively – honestly it’s less the outcome that annoys me and more the action – it just doesn’t seem like a good approach to go up there hacking right away against a fresh into the game pitcher that’s being immediately thrust into a bases-loaded jam. the pressure is all on the pitcher there, so i’d like to see the batter make him work.

  • Steve Alex says:

    A very sound philosophy.

  • Sean Porter says:

    This just in: Corey Kluber is quietly turning out to be a legit, middle-of-the-rotation guy for the Indians, hopefully for years to come.

    Is this a case of a guy whose proverbial “light” is coming on now? I mean, I don’t remember much being said about him as he went through the minors, which is startling considering guys who can strike a batter out an inning and throw 94 with command aren’t exactly a ho-hum phenomenon in an organization who needs young starting pitching like the Indians do.

    I got the impression that Kluber was a fringe David Huff-type, a #5 guy who may or may not be selling insurance by the time he’s 29. Instead, he’s progressing to the point where you could “lightly” pencil him in as a great compliment to Masterson and McAllister for the foreseeable future.