Corey Kluber has been shutting down opposing offenses all season.
Emerging as the ace of the Cleveland Indians’ starting rotation, Kluber entered Friday night’s game against the Colorado Rockies with an outstanding strikeout rate, striking out better than 10 hitters per nine innings. He pitched well once again in this game, striking out 12 hitters and leading the Indians to a 5-2 victory.
Kluber went 7 1/3 innings, allowing just five hits and two earned runs on a Carlos Gonzalez home run. With that outing, he has now thrown 80 innings this season with a staggering 2.20 FIP and a 10.69 K/9 clip. Kluber is an ace this season; his off-speed pitches were borderline unhittable in this game. According to the PITCHf/x data, Kluber induced a 25.8% whiff rate with his slider and a 23.5% whiff rate with his curveball. That’s dirty.
There is no shame in losing to him. The Rockies just happened to face him at the worst possible time.
The problem for the Rockies is the fact that they entered this game coming off a week in which they failed to beat up mediocre pitchers like Kyle Kendrick and Roberto Hernandez. If you win the games against those guys and then fall against Kluber, that’s not so bad. But if you lose those games and then fail to get your offense back on track against Kluber, it’s that much more painful to strikeout all night and lose another game.
There is now a big “if” hanging over the final two games in Cleveland. If the Rockies win both of these games and take this series, this painful road trip isn’t so bad. If they wrap it up with a 4-5 record, they can live with that. If not, this becomes the latest awful, horrible road trip from a Rockies franchise that is always awful and horrible on the road.
The Starting Pitcher
Juan Nicasio struggled. He failed to make it out of the fifth inning. What is somewhat baffling to anybody who might glance at the box score is that Nicasio issued zero walks. He just got battered around, allowing five runs on nine hits. When he’s good he’s so good. When he’s not he’s so bad. If he goes much longer without improving his consistency, his spot in the rotation might be one that is up for grabs for the trio of top prospects in Tulsa.
Walt Weiss got run! He got run! Finally! A manager ejection! Anybody who cares to subscribe to the notion that Weiss needed to do that can be excited, I guess.
So what set him off? Not surprisingly it was in defense of the beloved Michael Cuddyer.
The interesting thing is the fact that home plate umpire John Tumpane gave Cuddyer a pretty long leash when the veteran got up in his face but he then appeared to have a pretty quick hook on Weiss. Presumably Weiss said a magic word. On a scale of 1-10, I will give Weiss a 4. His ejection game should improve, especially if he studies the tape of the masters.