Kluber closes book on sterling May
CLEVELAND -- Although he might not act like it, Corey Kluber's last month on the mound has produced remarkable results and likely thrust him into consideration for the All-Star Game.
In his six May starts, Kluber went 4-0 with a 2.09 ERA, giving up no more than three runs in any of those outings. Among 16 players with at least 37 innings pitched in May, his ERA was second only to the Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka (1.88), and his 60 strikeouts led all American League pitchers.
But there is little secret to Kluber's success: The steadiness of his mental approach combined with the rigor of his off-day routines are what have the right-hander among the best arms going this season.
"He's like a robot," Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway said. "He's the same guy every single day, whether he pitches good or bad. There's no peaks or valleys. He's consistent and he does his work probably better than everybody."
Of course, Kluber's overwhelming arsenal of pitches has certainly helped his cause. With impressive movement on his sinker, cutter, slider and changeup, the 28-year-old has been able to keep hitters off-balance at the plate.
"He's cutting the ball at 91 [mph], sinking it at 96, got a devastating breaking ball, good changeup. He attacks hitters and moves the ball around, so hitters are never comfortable. He's not afraid to pitch inside," reliever Cody Allen said. "It's pretty fun as a reliever to come in after him because hitters just aren't that comfortable at all in the box."
Entering Sunday's action, Kluber led the AL with 95 punchouts and 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings. His 60 May strikeouts were the most by a Cleveland pitcher since Dennis Eckersley in 1976. He joins Yu Darvish as the only pitcher with 60-plus whiffs in a single month in the past decade, and his six consecutive starts with at least 6 2/3 innings pitched and eight strikeouts tied an Indians record.
But Kluber hardly takes the time to relish in his accomplishments. In fact, he consistently deflects praise away from himself and towards teammates.
"I'm just trying to go out and pitch a good game and give our team a chance to win each time out," Kluber said after his last start.
And apparently, that's just how the reliable righty prefers to operate. When he's not on the hill, he's out of the spotlight.
"He's very to himself, a pretty humble guy," Allen said. "He just had a pretty incredible month. He deserves all the praise, but he's not the guy that's going to take it. Pretty laid back, easygoing guy."