Don’t worry about Corey Kluber, guys. The Cleveland Indians ace is fine. Sure, he’s coming off yet another uncharacteristically bad outing, but he’s certainly not hurt.
He’s fine. It’s fine. Everything is fine.
It sure doesn’t feel this way. Despite what both the Indians and Kluber himself have been insisting, it seems like he’s still playing through an injury.
If that’s the case, the Indians need to shut him down ASAP.
Last night was yet another example of watching Kluber pitch and thinking “are you sure he’s OK?” While the Indians defense did him no favors in a 7-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, he yet again didn’t look like the dominant pitcher we’ve come to know.
Combining this with has past few showings only makes things more concerning.
In his last two starts, Kluber has given up 17 hits, 13 runs (nine earned) and only tallied eleven strikeouts. While he got off to a great start in the month of June, he ended it by giving up six earned runs in just 1.2 innings of work in a blowout loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. He logged 80 combined strikeouts through April and May, only to notch a little over half of that in June and July.
Essentially, if you’re looking for evidence proving he may be fighting through some pain, there’s plenty to sift through.
For a while, both Kluber and the team continued referring to his struggles as just a minor issue, something he’d work on fixing. However, holes were punched in this narrative right before the All-Star break.
It was then we were told Kluber wouldn’t be making his scheduled appearance at the midsummer classic due to his needing an injection in his knee. This announcement was made a day after he threw 114 pitches in a losing effort to the New York Yankees.
So, not only were we told Kluber was indeed pitching hurt, we were notified right after seeing more proof he’s trying to fight through it.
The injury fears with Kluber are only going to increase with each bad start. Knowing this, what’s the harm in Cleveland shutting him down for a few weeks?
As a reminder, the Indians are 8.5 games up in the AL Central. Barring a massive collapse, they can safely start thinking about the postseason. There really aren’t any concerns when it comes to shelving Kluber for a bit.
However, there certainly are plenty that come with the idea of continuing to let him gut through whatever’s ailing him.
We’re talking about a pitcher who’s coming off a particularly rough October, which featured two shaky starts and just as much injury speculation. At that point, everyone assumed Kluber wasn’t 100% because he was pushing himself in attempts to net another Cy Young award.
This alone makes the idea of letting him play through pain now unfathomable. Toss in the fact star reliever Andrew Miller is still working to recover from a knee injury he suffered when pushing himself back in May and you can see why letting this happen to another key player could be a devastating mistake.
I certainly understand the idea of being prideful and toughing it out despite not being 100%. At this point in the year, I’m sure almost every player in the Cleveland clubhouse is taking the field at less than full strength.
However, this needs to be thrown out the window when considering the real goal at hand here.
The Indians are no longer a “happy to be here” playoff team. Their primary focus is to finish the job they fell short of in 2016, to get back to the World Series and win the final game this time.
As a result, there’s zero reason for Kluber to be on the mound if he’s not healthy. If he’s continuing to pitch through pain while not letting the team know how serious the issue is, he’s potentially hurting Cleveland’s chances when it matters most. If the Tribe is aware of what’s going on and letting him pitch anyway, it’s voluntarily hindering its World Series hopes.
Should this really be just a case of some mechanics in need of fixing, that’s fine. However, if both Kluber and the Indians are trying to make an injury a non-issue, prioritizing meaningless games in July over the playoffs, it’d be a catastrophic blunder which could derail all hopes for a World Series win.