CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – Corey Kluber is creeping his way up the list of great pitcher in Cleveland Indians history, landing among the greats the game has seen along the way.
Though the former Cy Young winner may still be climbing that ladder, his long-time battery-mate Yan Gomes sees an aspect of Kluber’s game that is tops in his mind.
“I think I say this every time. He’s able to make adjustments every time that I haven’t seen many, even on the other side, do,” Gomes said.
On Thursday night, the adjustment de jour was the increased usage of Kluber’s four-seam fastball. In a five-pitch repertoire that includes three fastballs, the righty’s four-seamer is normally used fourth-most, and last among the fastballs.
In his complete-game win over the Yankees, Kluber threw the four-seamer 30 times out of 106 pitches, topping his long list of weapons.
The four-seamer was used mostly against New York’s four left-handers, with 19-of-30 pitches coming to southpaws. Out of that 19, Kluber earned six called strikes and one swinging. Six four-seamers to lefties were put in play, all resulting in outs.
Of the 11 four-seamers to righties, Kluber grabbed four strikes, one swinging, and none were put in play.
“He even told me, ‘I don’t know if they thought I didn’t have a four-seamer,’ because they were taking a bunch of them,” Gomes added. “It’s one of those things that when something starts working, don’t stop it, just keep going.”
The ability to pepper the zone with fastballs allowed Kluber to throw just 26 off-speed pitches, 23 of them curveballs, maximizing effectiveness.
Kluber said that he noticed the effectiveness of his tertiary fastball during the early going.
“Tonight, maybe after the first time through the order it just kind of seemed like it was going on them a little bit so I’m not sure if they were ready for the two-seamer or it just had some good life to it tonight,” he said. “You could kind of tell that after the first time through the order that maybe it was getting on them a little quicker than they thought.”
Gomes did not indicate who made the call to increase the usage of the pitch, but said that he normally tries to handle such endeavors.
“I’ll usually try and take care of that part,” he said. “I don’t want him thinking at all out there. There will be some times where he’s like, ‘this pitch is not feeling it, let’s try to go to something else,’ but then he’ll find it later on. He’ll make that kind of adjustment.”
The pair both broke into the big leagues together in 2013, and the partnership has developed its own effectiveness according to the starter.
“Definitely I think we both have a lot of trust in each other throughout the game we just discuss things between innings and it doesn’t take long to kind of get on the same page when we’re talking about something,” Kluber said. “And like you said, I think that comes from time together and working together a lot and kind of building that relationship.”
The headiness from the battery resulted in Kluber’s third complete game of the season, one off of his career high. The all-star also struck out 11 Yankees, his 35th career game with double-digit strikeouts, and his 11th this season.
Kluber has now struck out eight batters in 12 consecutive start, which not only extended his Indians record, but also placing him among a list of three hall of famers to accomplish the feat: Randy Johnson (four times), Pedro Martinez (twice) and Nolan Ryan.
The team’s ace now sits in sole possession of eighth-place on the Indians’ strikeouts list at 1,108, passing Gary Bell’s mark of 1,104.