There are big names and big arms in major league baseball. Then there's Corey Kluber.
There are sports superstars in Cleveland like LeBron James and Johnny Manziel. Then there's Corey Kluber. There are pitchers scouts like to ogle over, guys like Felix Hernandez, Clayton Kershaw and David Price. Then there's Indians starter Corey Kluber.
The thing is that, numbers-wise, you couldn't tell much of a difference this season. Actually, Kluber's numbers are more efficient. Over his past 40 innings and six starts, he has allowed a 0.68 ERA. Over the past 10, it's a 1.32 ERA. For the year, he's 13-6 with a 2.46 ERA.
Now, he's got an Indians team that entered the season without a ton of legitimate playoff hope thinking it can make a run, sitting five games out of the second AL Wild Card spot with an exactly .500 (59-59) record.
Where he began
The story on Kluber, at least the in-depth one Sports Illustrated recently wrote, has to notate where the turnaround began. In 2011, he didn't make the Triple-A Columbus Clippers' playoff rotation. He was erratic, he wasn't real good and, at 25, he was nearing the end of his rope.
Then, in May 2012, SI.com says that he had struggled in an outing and was asked to stick to just throwing his two-seam fastball. Something clicked, somehow he gained control.
"The cutter and slider already showed signs of being quality major league pitches," Indians minor league pitching coordinator Ruben Niebla told SI.com. "We always went back and forth in the minors about what the best combination was for him: Curveball-slider, slider-cutter, curveball-cutter? We obviously did not feel he needed three pitches going away from a right handed hitter, but we did feel that he would be able to make whatever pitches he picked into major league weapons.
"Most pitchers command their fastball first, then develop their secondary pitches after that. Corey did it backwards," Niebla added. "He had his secondary pitches, but he needed to command his fastball."
What he's done
Now, he's in the majors and exhibiting that same control that started to appear that day. It's brought him historic results.
On July 30, it led him to an incredible 85-pitch shutout. It was the second straight shutout for Kluber, which made him the first pitcher in 100 years to throw nine-inning shutouts in back-to-back outings.
"He's nasty, man," Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter told MLB.com after facing Kluber recently. "He's got control, didn't walk guys. He's a handful. I think he's had a lot of success throughout the entire year, not just today. If he continues to pitch like this, he'll have an extremely long and successful career."
Will the awards come?
Kluber is understandably at a disadvantage now when it comes to awards because, well, people just don't see him as a great pitcher yet. They are skeptical it could all fall apart.
He could be the Jose Bautista of pitchers, where something clicks and suddenly he's one of the game's best for years. Or, he could simply be a one-year wonder. He's striking out batters at a high rate, along with pitching efficient, recently throwing an 11-strikeout win over the Yankees on Saturday.
MLB.com noted afterward that only Sam McDowell (four times), Bob Feller (twice), Herb Score (twice), Luis Tiant (once) and Dennis Eckersley (once) have at least seven of those double-digit strikeout performances in a season. That means it's been 38 years since Eckersley did it in 1976.
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