The Cleveland Indians quest for a World Series championship rests on the arms of the pitching staff and the ace of the staff, Corey Kluber struggled once again in the postseason in Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Friday.
Kluber gave up three solo home runs and four earned runs overall in 4.2 innings pitched in what is becoming a trend for the two-time Cy Young winner in October.
In his first five postseason starts, Kluber went 4-1, giving up three earned runs, one home run and an 0.89 ERA in 30.1 innings pitched.
Then came Game 7 of the 2016 World Series and that’s when his struggles began.
- Game 7, 2016 World Series vs Cubs: 4 innings, six hits, four earned runs, two home runs allowed
- Game 2, 2017 ALDS vs Yankees: 2.2 innings, seven hits, six earned runs, four strikeouts, two home runs allowed
- Game 5, 2017 ALDS vs Yankees: 3.2 innings, three hits, three earned runs, six strikeouts, two home runs allowed
- Game 1, 2018 ALDS vs Astros: 4.2 innings, six hits, four earned runs, two strikeouts, three home runs allowed
Last four postseason starts
- 15 innings
- 22 hits given up
- 17 earned runs
- 12 strikeouts
- 9 home runs allowed
- 0-2 record
- Indians are 1-3 in those postseason games
Now last year against the Yankees, you could tell that something was bothering Kluber and it turned out that he was dealing with a back injury that had bothered him early in the 2017 season.
Kluber dealt with a knee issue earlier this season that the team shut him down for a couple weeks and he got an injection to deal with inflammation. It makes you wonder if the knee or perhaps the back once again is bothering him.
Mananger Terry Francona shut down that suggestion in his postgame press conference, “That was last year, it has nothing to do with today.”
His velocity has also been an issue, throwing around a 90 mph fastball which is 2 mph off his regular season average. Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer said that Kluber’s pitches seemed flat and that he was throwing more with a sidearm approach.
Whatever his issues are, the Indians and Kluber himself need to get them figured out and if that means perhaps shutting Kluber down then it needs to be done for the betterment of the team.
The team has the starting pitching to get it done in the postseason. Carlos Carrasco, Mike Clevinger, Trevor Bauer and Shane Bieber and also a strong bullpen can get it done and have so throughout the 2018 season or they wouldn’t be in the position they are in.
But if Kluber is going to continue to pitch, he needs to shake off the nerves and be the ace the Tribe is depending on because if it comes down to a Game 5 in this series and beyond in this postseason, Cleveland needs the two-time Cy Young Award winner and not the dud he’s been recently in October.