The Rise of Mike Clevinger and Comparison to Corey Kluber

Mike Clevinger has been quite the pitcher this season and has given the Indians another weapon in their rotation.  A weapon that other teams such as the Yankees would love to have- they are four deep in their rotation potentially fi e deep with the emergence of Shane Bieber. This not an article about Shane Bieber this about the steady rise of a former 4th-round draft pick, of the Angels, whom the Indians acquired for reliever Vinnie Pestano in 2014.

I have been watching this guy since we acquired him, as I do with most Tribe acquisitions/draft picks, and I have to say his rise is very similar to another pitcher currently in the rotation. This pitcher is also a former 4th round pick acquired via the trade market.

Who is it that I am speaking of?

Well, it is none other than Corey Kluber – acquired on July 31, 2010, in a three-team trade between the Indians, Padres, and Cardinals. For those of you who do not remember this trade the Indians sent Jake Westbrook to the Cardinals, Ryan Ludwick to the Padres received Kluber from the Padres and paid the remaining 2.7 million of Westbrook’s salary.  Looking back now two Cy Young awards later and it is easy to see the Indians have won that trade.

Being drafted in the 4th round of the first year player draft by other teams and subsequently acquired via trades by the Indians front office is not the only place they are similar. I took a look at the advanced stats – in the minors and majors – added them together separately and what came out were very similar results.

Before I give you those I am not saying by any means that I think Clevinger will be as successful as Kluber has been – ala two Cy Young Awards and club records broken – but I am saying that there is a chance we could see results that closely resemble one another.

With that being said let’s take a look at those advanced stats starting with their career in the minors. Corey Kluber: K/9 (SO per 9 IP)- 8.76, BB/9 (Walks per 9IP)- 3.80, HR/9 (Home -runs per 9IP)- .78, BABIP (BA on balls in play)- .334, LOB% (% of runners left on base)- 67.9%, GB% (Ground ball %)- 36.4%, HR/FB (Home-run to fly ball ratio measures the number of times a home run is hit when there is a fly ball) 7.4%, ERA- 4.73 (4.26 in seasons where he pitched 10+ games), FIP (Fielding Independent % measures what a pitchers ERA would look like if they experienced league average results on balls in play) – 4.06 (3.775 in seasons he pitched 10+ games).

Now, Mike Clevinger – note I only used numbers from where he pitched eight or more games: K/9- 8.77, BB/9- 3.18, HR/9- .91, BABIP- .286, GB%- 45.4%, LOB%- 76.7%, HR/FB- 10.5%, ERA- 3.22, FIP- 3.61.  Take a second to ingest all of that and look how eerily similar those stats are… amazing and surprising at the same time.

Think about that for a second and now let’s take a closer look at each of these two guys stats in majors – including so far this season. Corey Kluber: K/9- 9.81, BB/9- 1.8, HR/9- .91, BABIP- .286, GB%- 45.4%, LOB%- 77.5%, HR/FB- 12%, ERA- 2.95, and FIP- 2.94. Most of his statistics improved as he came up to the majors – exception being HR/FB as you face much more experienced and better hitters in the majors.

With all of that Kluber has managed two Cy Young Awards – probably would have had three if not for Rick Porcello’s campaign a couple season’s ago – and has become the leader of the best staff in AL and arguably the MLB. Mike Clevinger: K/9- 8.92, BB/9- 4.1, HR/9- .98, BABIP- .283, GB%- 40.7%, LOB%- 75.8%, HR/FB- 10.5%, ERA- 3.80, FIP- 3.96. Now granted with Clevinger we are working with a smaller sample size but the results are the same… eerily similar stats with much-improved stats this season. Take this for reference so far this season Mike Clevinger is 6-3 in 16 GMs pitched and 104.0 IP, 3.03 ERA, 1CG and 1 Shut-out, 94 SO, 34 BB, 7 HR, 89 Hits, 36 R, 35 ER, a 1.18 WHIP and 2.5 WAR (Wins above replacement-measures how many wins he is worth to the team). Corey Kluber so far in 2018 better but still close in some proximity: In 18GMs pitched Kluber is 12-4 in a 119.1 IP, a 2.64 ER, 1 CG, 120 SO, 13 BB, 17 HR (a lot for him right now), 91 Hits, 37 R, 35 ER, a .87 WHIP, and a WAR of 2.7.  Once again eerily similar this season with Kluber as there is only a .2 difference in their WAR’s so far this season, but as expected Kluber leads in most if not all categories.

I realize I just threw a lot of statistics out there but it was my way of proving the point that the rise of Mike Clevinger is almost a mirror image of Corey Kluber. It shows the work ethic of both of these players to want to be great, their want to continue to get better and raise the bar and their want to win. That was very noticeable with Clevinger before the season began as he stated several times how he wanted to go 200 innings pitched this year. How he wanted to be a guy the Indians could rely on to give them 6-7+ innings any time they needed it. On top of that and add in the fact Clevinger and Trevor Bauer are good friends on this team – another extremely hard worker which is paying off going back to the second half of last season. Bauer could very well be and should be an All-Star (if not the all-star game starter) and potential candidate for a Cy Young Award. Carlos Carrasco has been in that conversation as well in the past and will remain in it for the foreseeable future.

What these statistics tell me is that anything less than an All-Star bid, a Cy Young award or two are not far out of reach for Mike Clevinger. Now he most likely won’t reach those this year- in fact, it’s entirely more likely it happens next season – but a World Series Championship with him in the rotation this time instead of the bullpen… most Certainly Possible and what we all expect!

Image: ESPN

 

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