CLEVELAND -- Because starting pitcher Corey Kluber made the final start of the first half of the 2017 regular season, it was announced last Friday that he would not appear in the 2017 Major League Baseball All-Star Game.
And Kluber is okay with missing “The Midsummer Classic” in order to remain healthy over the stretch run of the regular season as the Indians focus in on making a second straight trip to the postseason after coming within one victory of their first World Series Championship since 1948 last fall.
“The competitive spirit in all of us probably wants to get out there and pitch, but I think at the same time, you have to look at a bigger picture,” Kluber said.
“My job is to pitch for the Indians, not to pitch for the American League All-Star team. As fun as it would’ve been, I think that using better judgment was to try and set myself up to stay healthy for the second half of the season, and hopefully, beyond.”
Since returning from the disabled list after a month of dealing with back issues, Kluber has regained the type of form that made him an American League Cy Young Award finalist last year and an All-Star in each of the past two seasons.
In a tough-luck 1-0 loss to the San Diego Padres at Progressive Field on July 4, Kluber struck out 10 hitters, and in doing so, set a new Indians record for the most consecutive 10-plus strikeout performances (five).
Despite taking his third loss of the season, Kluber allowed only one walk, scattered five hits and one earned run and registered the 10 strikeouts over eight innings of work. Of Kluber’s 107 pitches, 73 found the strike zone.
In his final start of the first half, Kluber’s streak of consecutive games with at least 10 strikeouts came to an end, as he struck out eight with three hits and one earned run allowed over five innings of work. Kluber threw 101 pitches, and only 61 of them found the strike zone in a 5-3 home loss to the Detroit Tigers.
“After the game I pitched against Texas, we looked at the schedule to see that I could possibly line up to pitch two more times before the All-Star Break, so that was my only thought process going into it, trying to get as many more outings as I could,” Kluber said.
“I never thought about trying to pitch Sunday so I didn’t pitch Tuesday. I felt like I missed a lot of time and tried to make up for it the best I can.”
Over 14 starts this season, Kluber has struck out 123 hitters against just 24 walks with 68 hits and 29 earned runs allowed over 93.1 innings of work. Despite missing several starts because of the back issues, Kluber has a 7-3 record and 2.80 earned run average, which is the lowest of any Indians starting pitcher.
“It was unfortunate that I had to miss four starts,” Kluber said. “That’s a tough pill for anyone to swallow, but looking back on it, I wasn’t really giving the team the best chance to win by trying to go out there and not pitch 100 percent, by going out there and not knowing what I was going to be able to do effectively. In hindsight now, I’m in a better spot than I was when I had to go on the DL, so hopefully, that puts me in a spot to help us win games.”