The Curious Case of Corey Kluber
Eddie Kerekes | On 19, Apr 2016
In Corey Kluber’s first three starts this year, the offense has provided him with two, one, and zero runs of support. This limited scoring continues to support the narrative from last year that Kluber has been a victim of poor offensive support. Of course, he needs to pitch well for the amount of support to matter, which he hasn’t done in his three starts so far.
The numbers from 2015 back up the low run support narrative as well. In 18 of Kluber’s 32 starts in 2015, the Tribe scored two or fewer runs. When Kluber is giving up only 2.7 runs per start, those two runs were normally not enough. The question then becomes if this problem has plagued him throughout his young career and whether it continues in 2016.
The answer is no.
For Kluber’s career, the Indians have scored two or fewer runs in only 38% of his 104 starts since 2012, much lower than the 56% of last year. In fact, in each of his three previous seasons, the Tribe scored fewer than two runs less than a third of the time.
While two runs certainly isn’t enough to win a ballgame, four runs generally is, and, from 2012-2015, the Tribe scored four runs or fewer in only 53% of his starts. In that time frame, the Tribe scored four or fewer runs in 61% of games. If anything, Kluber got more run support than other pitchers in the rotation. Thus, 2015 was just an anomaly.
Comparing Kluber to other pitchers across the majors leads to the same conclusion. Over the course of his career, Clayton Kershaw received four or fewer runs of support in 60% of his starts, while Kluber’s percentage was 61% over his career. Over their respective careers, both pitchers average between 4.20 and 4.25 runs of support per game. Even in the AL, Kluber’s run support is similar to other great pitchers. The past year’s Cy Young Award Winner, Dallas Keuchel, received on average 4.33 runs of support per game throughout his career.
Despite the Tribe scoring a total of three runs in his three starts this year, Kluber does not have a run support problem. He was just unlucky in 2015, according to his career numbers, and the trend will not continue for the rest of this year. It’s not like the Indians’ offense decides not to score runs on Kluber days, they just somehow don’t.
Photo: Brian Kersey/Getty Images