After notching back-to-back 14-strikeout performances (hence the 14 “K’s” in his name), Indians starting pitcher Corey Kluber is making a very strong case for the American league Cy Young award—baseball’s most prestigious acknowledgment for pitchers.
The last time a player had back-to-back games in which he struck out 14 or more hitters in the MLB? Randy Johnson in 2004.
But don’t think Kluber’s last two outings were just a flash in the pan.
Overall, Kluber leads all of Major League baseball in strikeouts with 258 of them, and has a phenomenal 2.53 ERA on the year. His record stands at 17-9, which is a huge leap from his 11-5 mark last season. No other player has demonstrated greater improvement from last year to this year, as he’s compiled career-highs in innings pitched, strikeouts, ERA and complete games.
Case in point, Kluber is a legitimate ace on a ball-club with formidable starting pitching. As a unit, Cleveland’s pitchers have fanned 1,391 hitters already this year (as of Sept. 21), setting a franchise record for strikeouts in a season. The dominating pitching performances by the starting pitchers throughout the season have kept Cleveland in the thicket of the playoff race.
Kluber is the head of the beast, and he’s been outlandishly good when Cleveland has needed him most.
Over his last 4 starts, Kluber has a ridiculous 1.39 ERA with 43 strikeouts—oh, and he’s 4-0 in those games—not bad for a team that needs to win pretty much every game from here on out to make the playoffs. Needing anything short of a miracle to play October baseball, Kluber has been miraculous for the Indians.
As such, the Cy Young is very much within his reach, and it’s only right the award comes to Cleveland.
The man whom the award is named after, Cy Young himself, was actually drafted by Cleveland in 1890 (no, not by the Cleveland Indians, but rather by the Cleveland Spiders—the Indians weren’t established as a major league franchise yet).
Young went on to pitch nine seasons with the Spiders before being moved to St. Louis in 1899; amassing an incredible 241 wins during his time with Cleveland. After two seasons with St. Louis, Young transitioned to the newly blossoming American League and played for Boston, where he would spend the next seven years of his career. He would then return to Cleveland for a two-year stint, winning 29 more games in that span before finally going back to Boston and retiring as a Boston Rustler.
In total, Young played 12 of his 22 seasons in Cleveland.
Besides the fact the Cy Young himself played more than half of his career in Cleveland, the Indians have had three Cy Young award winners in their history (Gaylord Perry in 1972, CC Sabathia in 2007 and Cliff Lee in 2008) and have established themselves a franchise with traditionally great pitching.
That being said, the award belongs in Cleveland—and Kluber is doing his best to bring it home. History would agree and Kluber’s stats today solidify that notion.
Bring the Cy Young Award to Cleveland. Go Tribe.