CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – Corey Kluber had about as much energy as someone waiting in line to get their driver’s license renewed.
The talented righty sat at the microphone on Thursday evening, wearing an Indians playoff sweatshirt and sporting thick playoff beard. A dark shadow fell over his eyes, the bill of his cap pulled down to its typical resting spot on his forehead.
He answered questions about his health. He gave credit to his upcoming opponent’s incredible talent.
He managed to crack a smile and make a joke about Trevor Bauer’s extensive knowledge of pitching data. But his friendly quip about his teammate was about as far as Cleveland’s ace was willing to come out of his shell during his chat with the media.
And there was certainly no reason to be shocked by Kluber’s stoic presence. This is just who he is.
If the 30-year-old will have any emotions to manage during his upcoming Game 1 start of the American League Championship Series against the Toronto Blue Jays, he certainly did not reveal them the night prior to opening the best-of-seven series.
He was as focused as ever on the task ahead: Friday’s series opener at Progressive Field.
“They’re a solid lineup, one through nine,” Kluber said of Toronto. “Everybody in that lineup can hurt you.”
Indeed, they can.
The Blue Jays finished with baseball’s ninth-highest run total. They slugged 221 homers, the fourth-most in the Majors this season. They walk more than any other American League team.
Toronto is capable of hurting opposing pitchers, even ones as talented as Kluber. The righty allowed seven runs on 13 hits in just 10 innings against the Blue Jays this season.
“They have a lot of power, but they’re also patient,” Kluber said. “You have to go out there and execute pitches… It’s not a magic formula, they’re just a really good offense.”
Despite the obvious challenge of facing a dangerous team like the Jays, Kluber feels like he is a good place physically, particularly after throwing seven shutout innings against the Boston Red Sox in Game 2 of the ALDS.
Kluber, who had not thrown in 11 days after dealing with a mild quad strain, proved that any issue he had experienced at the end of the regular season was in the past, even if he never personally had any doubts about his health heading into the postseason.
“Mechanically, I feel fine,” he said. “I don’t feel like I made any adjustments because of my leg. I still feel strong physically, so I think I’m in a good spot.”
And ready to pitch on three days rest, if needed. But Cleveland will enter the ALCS, at least for now, planning to use a four-man rotation in the best-of-seven matchup against Toronto.
Things can always change in the postseason, however. And they often do.
But Kluber’s health entering the ALCS matchup against Toronto, despite the injury and extended break at the end of the regular season, certainly falls in the positive category for a club that didn’t receive much in the good news department over the final month of the season.
“Maybe it was a blessing in disguise, having a chance for the rest of my body to recover and stuff,” he said. “But I think I have the last game to go off of, that I had a long rest and it didn’t necessarily affect the way I felt out there, so I’m planning on that being the same this time.”