Don't look now, but Corey Kluber might just win the AL Cy Young. Wait, who?
Don't look now, but Kluber might win AL Cy Young
Perhaps you haven't been paying enough attention to the Cleveland Indians this season. Maybe Felix Hernandez and his 2.34 ERA have captured your eye. Or you've been hypnotized by Chris Sale's miniscule WHIP.
No matter the reason, if you haven't been tuning in to Corey Kluber's starts this season, you've been missing out on the man who just might win the 2014 AL Cy Young Award. Kluber and his perfectly groomed day's growth have a 17-9 record, a 2.53 ERA and 258 strikeouts. He's had 10 starts with more than 10 strikeouts (only David Price has more with 11) and has posted back-to-back 14-K outings. The last pitcher to do that was Randy Johnson in 2004.
With Kluber set to make his closing argument for some pitching hardware Saturday against the Rays, here's what you need to know:
Who is Corey Kluber?
Kluber is the 28-year-old ace of the Indians who has seemingly emerged from nowhere to lead the league in FIP, strikeouts and fWAR. That's right -- he has a higher fWAR than even Clayton Kershaw. (At least before Kershaw's 8 IP, 1 R, 11 SO performance on Wednesday night.)
Over the last three seasons, he's cut his ERA from 5.14 to 3.86 to 2.53 and increased his K/9 from 7.7 to 8.3 to 10.2.
Who isn't Corey Kluber?
Corey Box of Goobers
But where did he come from? He must have been a top prospect.
No, shockingly Kluber wasn't highly regarded as a Minor Leaguer. He was selected by the Padres in the 4th round of 2007 Draft and traded to Cleveland in a three-team deal that sent Jake Westbrook to St. Louis and Ryan Ludwick to San Diego. But the right-hander was never a top-10 prospect in either the Padres or Indians system. Kluber posted a 9.1 K/9 over seven Minor League seasons, but his career ERA was a pedestrian 4.42 on the farm.
So how did he become a Cy Young candidate?
Kluber has added velocity. His fastball now tops out at 95-96 mph instead of 92 when he was first drafted. He has also largely ditched his four-seam fastball in exchange for a two-seamer that he keeps down in the zone.
He also pretty much never stops working out. Apparently that's a good thing if you're a professional athlete.
Is that the gist of it?
Well, there's also THESE CURVEBALLS. If you can even call these unidentified floating objects curveballs. Because they may actually be ghostly orbs ... which would explain his near-25 pecent whiff rate on the pitch.
Anything else he's known for?
His animated facial expressions.
Those are eyes that will stare into your soul. And, if he has his way, will stare into many an award voter's soul this Fall.