Yesterday I wrote an article pertaining to Corey Kluber’s struggles this year and that in 7 starts this season he had a horrific 5.04 ERA (0-5 record). I also mentioned that his start against the St. Louis Cardinals could be a turning point in his season and the start that finally gets him going. After Wednesday’s start we can officially say that Kluber is back and in Cy Young form.
On Wednesday, Kluber turned in a brilliant and downright masterful performance, striking out a career- high 18 Cardinals and giving up just one hit in in eight innings pitched, leading to a 2-0 Indians victory. Last year’s American League Cy Young Award winner carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning before giving up a single with two outs in the 7th inning to former Indians SS Jhonny Peralta.
Now let’s put this incredible start into greater perspective.
Kluber’s 18 strikeouts ties Hall-of-Famer Bob Feller for the most in a nine-inning game in franchise history. Feller achieved the feat on Oct. 2, 1938 when he was just 17 years old. The 18 strikeouts are the most in the Majors since Ben Sheets fanned 18 on May 16, 2004, with the Brewers.
Kluber’s start marks only the second time since at least 1914 that a pitcher has recorded at least 18 strikeouts in no more than eight innings pitched. The only other pitcher to achieve this feat was Hall-of-Famer Randy Johnson who did it for the Seattle Mariners in September of 1992.
Kluber also joins a exclusive group of major-leaguers who have stuck out 18 batters in a game. Kluber joins Roger Clemens (three times), Randy Johnson (twice), Kerry Wood (once), and Luis Tiant (once) as the only pitchers since 1914 to have at least 18 strikeouts and no walks in an outing.
That’s an incredible group to be apart of, but what’s even more incredible is that Kluber’s game score (stat concocted by Bill James to evaluate how good a starter’s outing is) of 98 represents the highest in a Major League outing (consisting of no more than eight innings) since at least 1914. Kluber tied Len Barker and Dennis Eckersley for the highest game score (in a nine-inning game) in franchise history.
Kluber went out there and had complete command of all of his pitches. His sinker had massive run on it and he picked great spots to use it in. His cutter had just the right amount of “cut” to it and he was able to pound the outside corner constantly with it. And last but not least his slider looked as good as it did last year. He was able to back door it on to the left-handed hitters and have it go away from the right-handers. His assortment was amazing to say the least and his pitch selection and command were truly incredible.
Kluber was able to make the best team in the league look silly at the plate and he showed everyone that he is back. Kluber spun one of the greatest pitching outings in Major League history and it looks like he has turned his season around for good.
By Gabe Cohn
Follow me on Twitter: @CSTGabe