2012 in Review: Corey Kluber

Like Zach McAllister, Corey Kluber was acquired via a mid-season veteran-for-prospect trade. And like McAllister, Kluber should be in the mix for next season's rotation. Kluber also shared something with McAllister; growing pains in 2012.

2012 Age: 26

2012 WAR (Fangraphs): 0.6 (Sub Level)

2012 WAR (B-Ref): -0.6 (Replacement Level)

2012 Salary: ~$480K (minimum)

2013 Contract Status: Renewable Contract (<1 Year Service Time)

By most standards, Corey Kluber was not a prospect going into this season. He's two years older than Zach McAllister, and 2012 marked his third straight season in AAA. He fell into that middle ground between marginal prospect and minor-league journeyman thanks to his age and decent but not impressive numbers. He had always had a good strikeout rate, but that was tempered by a mediocre hit rate and a walk rate that predicted doom if he was promoted to the majors. But in 2012 Kluber knocked a walk/9 off his career norms and bumped his strikeout rate as well. He was now going 6 innings per start in AAA, a much better rate than he'd previously done.

So when the Tribe rotation crumbled into dust in July, the opportunity presented itself for Kluber. McAllister had earlier been permanently promoted to the majors, and when both Josh Tomlin and Derek Lowe were removed from the rotation, Kluber was thrust into the major-league rotation. The Indians didn't really have anyone else worth trying, and the season was already lost by that time, so Kluber was allowed significant leeway that he probably wouldn't have gotten had the Indians been in contention. So Kluber struggled at times, but toward the end of the season, started to have some successful outings.

While Kluber gave up lots of hits, he maintained good strikeout and walk rates, which again portends well if he can improve a couple things. Kluber has a nice put-away pitch in his slider, which is a good thing, since his fastball didn't miss many bats in his first extended major-league experience:

(via Brooks Baseball)

Pitch Counts Ball Call Str. Swings Fouls Whiffs BIP GB LD FB PU HR
Fourseam (FA) 71 45.07% 12.68% 39.44% 18.31% 7.04% 14.08% 4.23% 5.63% 2.82% 0.00%
Sinker (SI) 458 38.43% 20.96% 39.52% 13.32% 3.71% 22.71% 9.83% 6.55% 5.68% 0.66% 1.09%
Cutter (FC) 261 35.25% 11.88% 52.11% 19.54% 13.79% 18.77% 9.20% 2.30% 5.36% 1.92% 0.38%
Slider (SL) 146 36.30% 10.96% 52.05% 18.49% 17.81% 15.75% 5.48% 2.74% 4.11% 3.42% 1.37%
Curveball (CU) 81 29.63% 27.16% 43.21% 9.88% 20.99% 12.35% 4.94% 2.47% 4.94% 0.00%
Changeup (CH) 190 35.26% 12.11% 52.11% 14.21% 23.16% 14.74% 7.89% 3.16% 3.16% 0.53% 0.53%

I believe what Brooks counted as a curve was really his slider; if he does throw a curve, it doesn't look much different than his slider.

Zach McAllister has a very good chance of making next spring's rotation, but I think if the Indians had their way, Kluber would go back to AAA to serve as front-line depth. Kluber has been a durable pitcher, throwing over 150 innings in each of his past four seasons, but command is what turned Kluber into a viable starter candidate, and if he can maintain those improvements, he should get another shot in the rotation at some point next year.

2012 Game Log

Rk Gcar Gtm Date Tm Opp Rslt Inngs Dec DR IP H R ER BB SO HR HBP ERA BF Pit Str
1 4 105 Aug 2 CLE @ KCR L,6-7 GS-5 99 4.1 9 6 6 1 4 2 0 12.46 22 85 56
2 5 110 Aug 7 CLE MIN L,5-7 GS-7 4 6.0 6 3 1 3 3 0 0 6.10 27 96 54
3 6 115 Aug 12 CLE BOS L,1-14 GS-4 L(0-1) 4 3.1 7 6 6 0 4 1 1 8.56 18 64 43
4 7 120 Aug 18 CLE @ OAK L,5-8 GS-5 L(0-2) 5 5.0 4 4 0 3 2 1 0 6.27 21 95 56
5 8 125 Aug 24 CLE NYY L,1-3 GS-5 5 5.0 6 1 1 2 6 0 1 5.32 23 93 54
6 9 130 Aug 29 CLE OAK L,4-8 GS-6 L(0-3) 4 6.0 8 4 3 0 7 1 0 5.16 27 98 62
September/October Tm Opp Rslt Inngs Dec DR IP H R ER BB SO HR HBP ERA BF Pit Str
7 10 135 Sep 3 CLE @ DET W,3-2 GS-6 W(1-3) 4 6.0 6 2 2 1 4 0 1 4.79 24 95 60
8 11 140 Sep 9 CLE @ MIN L,7-8 GS-4 5 3.2 8 5 4 0 4 1 0 5.26 20 83 57
9 12 145 Sep 14 CLE DET L,0-4 GS-5 L(1-4) 4 5.0 8 4 4 2 5 0 1 5.48 25 92 55
10 13 150 Sep 20 CLE MIN W,4-3 GS-6 5 6.0 5 3 3 1 5 1 0 5.36 25 100 61
11 14 155 Sep 25 CLE @ CHW W,4-3 GS-7 W(2-4) 4 7.0 4 2 2 3 4 2 0 5.02 26 86 52
12 15 160 Oct 1 CLE CHW L,0-11 GS-6 L(2-5) 5 5.2 5 4 4 2 6 0 0 5.14 23 96 62
CLE 63.0 76 44 36 18 54 9 4 5.14 281
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/8/2012.

Career Stats

Year Age Tm Lg ERA G GS IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2007 21 SDP-min A- 3.51 10 7 33.1 28 16 13 1 15 33 1.290 7.6 0.3 4.0 8.9 2.20
2008 22 SDP-min A+,A 4.90 29 26 141.1 142 87 77 17 47 147 1.337 9.0 1.1 3.0 9.4 3.13
2009 23 SDP-min A+,AA 4.56 28 28 154.0 155 90 78 14 70 159 1.461 9.1 0.8 4.1 9.3 2.27
2010 24 SDP-CLE-min AA,AAA 3.49 29 28 160.0 169 75 62 8 56 165 1.406 9.5 0.4 3.2 9.3 2.95
2011 25 CLE-min AAA 5.56 27 27 150.2 153 101 93 19 70 143 1.480 9.1 1.1 4.2 8.5 2.04
2011 25 CLE AL 8.31 3 0 4.1 6 4 4 0 3 5 51 2.077 12.5 0.0 6.2 10.4 1.67
2012 26 CLE-min AAA 3.59 21 21 125.1 121 62 50 9 49 128 1.356 8.7 0.6 3.5 9.2 2.61
2012 26 CLE AL 5.14 12 12 63.0 76 44 36 9 18 54 76 1.492 10.9 1.3 2.6 7.7 3.00
2 Yrs 5.35 15 12 67.1 82 48 40 9 21 59 74 1.530 11.0 1.2 2.8 7.9 2.81
162 Game Avg. 5.35 38 30 169 207 121 101 23 53 149 74 1.530 11.0 1.2 2.8 7.9 2.81
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/8/2012.
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