The Cleveland Indians have made numerous significant trades over the past decade, including shipping off CY Young award winners C.C. Sabathia and Cliff Lee. Michael Brantley was acquired in the Sabathia exchange; while the Cliff Lee trade is arguably a bust, with Carlos Carrasco being the best asset.

Does anyone remember Jake Westbrook? Westbrook was a Cleveland Indian from 2001-10. In 2004, the right hander was elected to his first and only All-Star game. Tragically in June of 2008, the Indians announced Westbrook’s need for Tommy John surgery. After sitting out the entire 2009 season to recover, Westbrook was nominated the 2010 Opening Day starter.

Throughout 21 starts, the righty displayed a 6-7 record with one complete game, helping Cleveland to a disappointing 43-61 record before the trade deadline. As another season was slipping through our grasp, the Indians shipped Westbrook off to St. Louis in a three team trade. San Diego received outfielder, Ryan Ludwick from the Cardinals, while Cleveland was stuck with a Double-A prospect from the Padres.

Does anyone remember who that kid was? Corey Kluber. At the time, this trade was barely a blip on the radar. The Indians were losing so we exchanged our top pitcher for a work in progress. Despite a 6-6 record accompanied by a 3.45 earned run average, Kluber led the Texas league in strikeouts.

Meanwhile, rookie Josh Tomlin earned the opportunity to join the starting rotation. From that point on, Tomlin blossomed as a pitcher while Kluber waited for a shot.

On September 1st, 2011, Corey Kluber answered the call. The right hander entered the game facing a 7-0 deficit in the 8th inning with two outs. The rookie held his own, finishing the game with two strikeouts. The Alabama native added another scoreless inning versus the White Sox. Unfortunately, Kluber’s next appearance was a two inning, four run outing against Detroit.

Finally, after the 2012 All-Star break, Kluber seized his opportunity. A struggling Josh Tomlin was transferred to the bullpen. In 12 starts, Corey Kluber displayed a subpar 2-5 record while surrendering 36 runs in 63 innings, but did strike out 54 batters. This was only the beginning.

Throughout the 2013 campaign, the 28 year old started 24 games, improving his record to 11-5 while registering 136 K’s. Kluber was a key contributor to the Cleveland Indians playoff run.

After solidifying his position as a starter last season, this 2014 campaign has been stellar for the righty. Corey Kluber is currently making a case to be the ace of the rotation. Furthermore, none of this could be possible without Jake Westbrook.

Thank you, Jake Westbrook.

-Max Gold

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