Kluber going to All-Star Game for first time

Indians right-hander named to AL team in place of Blue Jays' Estrada

July 7th, 2016

CLEVELAND -- For the past two years, Corey Kluber had the distinction of being a Cy Young Award winner, but never a member of an All-Star team. That is no longer the case.

On Thursday, Kluber was named to the American League All-Star team for the first time in his career, serving as a replacement for Blue Jays right-hander Marco Estrada. Toronto placed Estrada on the disabled list due to a lower back issue, allowing Kluber to join teammates Danny Salazar and Francisco Lindor in San Diego for Tuesday's All-Star Game presented by MasterCard.

"For Klubes personally, I think it's awesome," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "I think it kind of shows that the league is recognizing his body of work, not just this year, but the last two years. I think if you look at his peripheral numbers, he's at the top of the league in a number of categories. And I'm glad that it was recognized."

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Kluber, Salazar and Lindor are all first-time All-Stars.

This marks the first time since 2007 (CC Sabathia, Victor Martinez and Grady Sizemore) that Cleveland will send at least three players to an All-Star Game. It is the first time since Sabathia and Jake Westbrook got the nod in 2004 that the Indians have sent at least two pitchers to MLB's annual showcase of superstars.

It is a first for the 30-year-old Kluber, whose breakout 2014 campaign netted him the AL Cy Young Award. His second-half surge that season, combined with a 9-16 record that marred a solid overall showing in '15, contributed to the fact that he never made an All-Star team prior to now.

"It was definitely an honor," Kluber said of getting the news. "I think anybody that plays baseball, pays attention to baseball, grew up watching the All-Star Game -- it's something that everybody has paid attention to over the years. And to be able to experience one first-hand will be a pretty cool experience."

Kluber, Salazar, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin have combined to form the top starting rotation in the AL, so it is fitting that two members of the staff will represent Cleveland at the All-Star Game in San Diego.

"There's a case to be made for all three of those guys that weren't selected," Kluber said. "I think what Josh has been able to do has been really impressive -- same for Trevor. Carlos [missed May due to injury], but he's been lights-out every time he's taken the ball, too."

Kluber was 8-8 with a 3.79 ERA heading into Thursday's game against the Yankees, but the right-hander was near or at the top of the league in multiple categories.

Kluber was tied for first among AL starters in WAR (3.1, according to Fangraphs.com), first in Fielding Independent Pitching (2.96), second in home runs per nine innings (0.71) and fourth in innings (114). He also ranked in the top five in strikeouts, WHIP and opponents' average, and in the top 10 in opponents' OPS, strikeouts per nine innings and strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Royals manager Ned Yost -- the AL's manager for the All-Star Game -- named Kluber to the team.

"It's definitely, I guess 'humbling' would be a good word," Kluber said. "He's obviously seen me pitch a bunch over the last few years -- some good, some not very good. I'm definitely appreciative of it."