Indians 2014 preview and predictions: Corey Kluber

Jason Miller

If it weren't for Danny Salazar, our next subject would have been the breakout pitching star of the Indians 2013 season: Corey Kluber.

This post is part of a contest in which you could win a free Let's Go Tribe t-shirt. In order to enter, just copy and paste the template at the bottom of this post into the comments, then fill in each category with your own prediction for how this player will do in 2014. Position players and pitchers will be featured as two separate contests. You need not submit predictions for every single player in either contest in order to win, but doing so will increase your chances, as points will be awarded separately for each player.

For pitchers, you'll be asked to predict each player's innings (IP), wins (W), ERA, WHIP, strikeout rate (K/9), and walk rate (BB/9). For relief pitchers there will be saves instead of wins.

Find every previous entry in the series here

The comments on each post in this series will remain open through Saturday, March 29.

Corey Kluber

2013 Recap

At 27-years old, Corey Kluber put together a breakout season for the Indians, striking out nearly a batter per inning (8.31 K/9), maintaining a low walk rate (2.02 BB/9), and putting that all together in a 3.85 ERA, despite some bad luck on balls in play. Thanks to a sprained finger, he was limited to just 14.71 IP, but he was special in those innings, serving as a legit number two starter behind Justin Masterson. Lest you doubt how good he was, among pitchers with at least 140 IP in 2013, Kluber's 3.30 FIP (a stat which looks to measure a pitcher's impact independent of how his defense plays), ranked 24th in the majors, 10th in the AL, and just edged out Justin Masterson (3.35, 11th in the AL) for the Indians team lead. For all the talk about Danny Salazar's potential as an ace, Kluber has a chance to establish himself as one of the best in AL - and all he has to do is repeat his 2013.

Recent Stats

Year Age Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP BK WP BF
2011 25 CLE 0 0 8.31 3 0 2 0 0 0 4.1 6 4 4 0 3 0 5 2 0 1 25
2012 26 CLE 2 5 .286 5.14 12 12 0 0 0 0 63.0 76 44 36 9 18 0 54 4 0 2 281
2013 27 CLE 11 5 .688 3.85 26 24 1 0 0 0 147.1 153 67 63 15 33 0 136 5 0 1 608
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/18/2014.

2014 Preview and Projections

Had he accrued the innings necessary, Kluber easily could have ended 2013 as the ace of the Indians staff, by the numbers if not by name. In 2014, without the pressure put on Masterson to lead the charge or the expectations on Salazar to explode, Kluber quietly walks into the season as a key cog in the rotation. The big questions with Kluber are going to be around health and control. The former is not a concern for me - he has thrown at least 150 innings every year since he was in A ball and a finger sprain concerns me a lot less than an elbow or shoulder issue. The latter is worth watching. His 2.02 BB/9 was not only the lowest of his MLB career, but is lower than he ever showed in the minors. While that is concerning, the upshot is that his 2012 MLB number was 2.57, suggesting that he may have turned a corner in his control sometime around then. If his 2013 control shows up in 2014, get ready for another solid season.

Here are a variety of projections for Kluber's 2014 season, all of which are available on his player page at FanGraphs, where you can find more detail, if you're so inclined:

System

IP

W

ERA

WHIP

K/9

BB/9

Steamer

173

11

4.07

1.30

7.60

2.90

Oliver

168

10

4.22

1.38

7.70

3.05

ZIPS

161

9

4.02

1.24

8.27

2.12

My Two Cents

ZiPS is the only one of these three that even looks reasonable to me. There is nothing in Kluber's resume to suggest a significant drop in his K/9, and I think that his BB/9, while maybe not quite as close to 2 as it was, but I don't expect it to jump over 3. ZiPS, however, also projects a .320 BABIP (Oliver says .319 and Steamer .296) which leads to the 4.02 ERA, despite underlying stats that suggest much better. I think he keeps up the strikeouts (8.25 K/9) without a big jump in walks (2.20 BB/9), but the BABIP settles in at a more normal level, leading to a 1.22 WHIP and a 3.52 ERA. He'll stay healthy, throw 193.2 innings and top it off with 15 wins.

To submit your entry, simply copy-and-paste the text below into a new comment, then fill in your predictions:

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  • WHIP:
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  • BB/9:
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