Red Sox

Kluber’s had a lot of past success but has dealt with injuries in recent seasons.

Corey Kluber spent one seasons with the Rays. AP Photo/Kevin M. Cox

The Red Sox made their first move to help their starting rotation earlier this week, reportedly agreeing to a one-year deal with Corey Kluber that has a club option for a second season.

Kluber, 36, was one of the top starting pitchers in baseball during the 2010s but has bounced around in recent seasons. The Red Sox will be the fifth team he’s played for over the last five years.

Here are five things to know about Kluber.

He’s a two-time Cy Young Award winner.

Kluber was a late bloomer. After being selected in the fourth-round of the 2007 MLB Draft by the Padres, Kluber (who was traded to Cleveland in 2010) didn’t make his MLB debut until September 2011 but wasn’t a regular MLB player until midway through the 2013 season, when he was 27 years old. Once Kluber got to the big leagues though, he made his presence known.

Kluber went 11-5 with a 3.85 ERA in 24 starts in 2013. A year later, he became an elite pitcher, especially as the season went on. Kluber pitched back-to-back 14 strikeout games in September of the 2014 season, helping him finish with an 18-9 record to go along with a 2.44 ERA, a league-leading 2.35 FIP, and 269 strikeouts in 235.2 innings pitched. Kluber’s late-season push and his whole body of work earned him the AL Cy Young Award in just his second full season in the majors.

Kluber still pitched at an elite level in the following two years, pitching seven complete games and posting a sub-3.50 ERA in each of the 2015 and 2016 seasons.

In 2017 though, Kluber upped his game to another level. He went 18-4 with a 2.25 ERA and a 2.50 FIP in 203.2 innings pitched. To go along with league-best record and ERA, Kluber also led the American League in complete games (5), shutouts (3), ERA+ (202), and WHIP (0.869). Kluber’s dominance made him the clear-cut choice to win the AL Cy Young Award in 2017, receiving 28 of 30 first-place votes to win the award.

He’s dealt with injuries in recent seasons but had a healthy 2022.

Following another All-Star season in 2018, Kluber’s time in Cleveland dwindled down in 2019. The righty fractured his throwing arm when a line drive hit him in May of that season. Kluber suffered abdominal tightness in during a rehab start in August, which ended up being the last game he pitched for the Cleveland organization.

Kluber was traded to the Texas Rangers prior to the 2020 season but only pitched one inning for them as he suffered a torn muscle in the upper limb on the throwing side of his body.

Kluber signed a one-year deal with the Yankees prior to 2021 after receiving interest from several teams, including the Red Sox. He pitched efficiently in his lone season in pinstripes, posting a 3.83 ERA and pitched a no-hitter in May of that season. However, he suffered a strain in his pitching shoulder in late May that cost him three months and led to him making just 16 starts and pitching 80 innings that season.

Finally, Kluber had a healthy season again with the Rays in 2022. While he didn’t pitch at the level he did in his days in Cleveland, Kluber made 30 starts and pitched 164 innings last season. He went 10-10 with a 4.34 ERA and a 3.57 FIP. Kluber tailed off a bit though in the second half of last season, going 4-5 with a 5.14 ERA in 13 starts.

He doesn’t walk hitters much.

There seems to be a consistent theme with signings the Red Sox have made this offseason. They want hitters that have a good eye and pitchers that throw strikes.

Not many pitchers are better are finding the strike zone over the last 10 years than Kluber. He’s led the American League in walks per nine innings three times, including last season, when he had a 1.2 BB/9. Kluber also had a three percent walk percentage, the best in all of baseball in 2022.

He was a bit unlucky last season.

The Red Sox might be making a bold bet on a pitcher who’ll be 37 for much of the upcoming season, but not without reason.

Opposing hitters posted a .274/.304/.425 line against Kluber last season, with two of those being higher than the expected outcome. Kluber had a .261 expected batting average against and a .416 expected slugging percentage against last season but a .310 expected weighted on-base percentage, per Baseball Savant. He had an expected ERA of 4.00 and a 3.57 FIP compared to a 4.33 ERA in 2022.

The biggest reason why Kluber might have been a bit unlucky is that opposing hitters did better against his top pitch, his cutter, than expected. Opposing hitters posted a .302/.325/.436 line when hitting against Kluber’s cutter last season. That’s much better than the .275/.313/.432 expected line hitters had against Kluber’s cutter last season.

He’s an Alabama native that became a resident of Winchester.

Following the departure of Rich Hill, the Red Sox picked up another starter with some local ties.

Kluber is a resident of Winchester even though he grew up in Alabama, went to high school in Texas, attended Stetson College in Florida, and never held a professional job in the New England area prior to signing with the Red Sox.

But Kluber’s wife, Amanda, is from Winchester, and following the 2016 season the couple decided to find a full-time home for the family, which includes three kids.

“This is where we wanted to raise our family, and our kids were at the point where they were about to start school, so that was the main reason we decided to move,” Kluber said in an interview with the New England Baseball Journal in 2019. “We didn’t want to have them bounce around from school to school once they got started. So that was why we decided to move back when we did.”


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