Corey Kluber, the stoic, two-time Cy Young Award winner, announced his retirement Friday after 13 major-league seasons.
For a five-year stretch, from 2014 to 2018, Kluber ranked alongside Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer as the most prolific pitchers in the sport. He exceeded 200 innings and 220 strikeouts in each of those years, capturing the AL Cy Young Award for Cleveland in 2014 and 2017. He’s one of 22 pitchers in league history to win the hardware on multiple occasions. He also finished third in the balloting in 2016 and 2018.
His performance during the 2016 postseason, when the then-Indians were absent two members of their rotation, nearly landed the club its first championship since 1948. Kluber logged a 0.89 ERA in his first five starts that October, despite twice pitching on short rest. He finally ran out of gas in Game 7 of the World Series against the Chicago Cubs.
Kluber ranks third in Cleveland history with 1,461 strikeouts, behind only Bob Feller and Sam McDowell. He matched Feller’s franchise record with 18 strikeouts in a nine-inning game on May 13, 2015, and Kluber accomplished the feat with Feller’s widow in attendance. Earlier that day, the team opened a Feller exhibit at Progressive Field.
Kluber was a late bloomer, bursting onto the scene in 2013. Cleveland acquired him in a three-team deal with the San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals in 2010. Cleveland traded away the remaining two months of control of veteran hurler Jake Westbrook and in return netted Kluber, a non-prospect in Double A with a solid strikeout rate but little hype.
His lack of emotion on the mound, or when being greeted with a standing ovation, earned him the nickname Klubot, a moniker of which he wasn’t particularly fond. It became impossible to distinguish, by his reaction, if he had notched another strikeout on one of his cutters or slurves or if he had surrendered a grand slam.
From 2014 to 2018, Kluber ranked second in the majors in innings pitched, fourth in ERA (2.85), third in strikeouts and third in fWAR. Cleveland flipped him to the Texas Rangers after the 2019 season in exchange for reliever Emmanuel Clase and outfielder Delino DeShields Jr., but a shoulder injury limited Kluber to only one inning with Texas. He later bounced to the New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox. On May 19, 2021, Kluber tossed a no-hitter for the Yankees against the Rangers.
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