A former Cy Young Award winner, fans are accustomed to Corey Kluber being one of the best pitchers in the big leagues. For the past three seasons, he has been an integral part of the starting rotation and the Cleveland Indians’ success. While last season was not quite as good as his magical 2013, fielder independent statistics suggest that bad luck cost him about half a run on his earned run average.
Unfortunately, the same seems to be true for this year as well. His 3.50 ERA is much higher than his 2.79 FIP (fielder independent pitching), which estimates a pitcher’s worth in a way that is more accurate in the long run. Given that he is likely to return to being an elite pitcher, it seems like a safe bet to suggest that he will be great in July.
Another major fact in support of this notion is his performance in June when he posted a 2.19 ERA and a 2.08 FIP. Much of this can be attributed to an increase in strikeouts and a reduction of base hits. The right-hander managed to hold opposing hitters to a minuscule batting average of .146, bringing his seasonal mark down to .207.
Not only is Kluber entering July after a streak of dominance, but he has been historically great in July. Over 126 innings of work, his career July earned run average comes in at a paltry 2.49, which advanced metrics find to be accurate of his value. Interestingly enough, his strikeout rates tend to dip a bit in this month, but so does his work rate. The driving factor for his July success seems to be his ability to limit baserunners, as suggested by his career July WHIP of 0.90.
Given that Kluber’s June success stemmed from elite contact management, it seems likely that Kluber can repeat this feat in July. As with Bauer, his success will be paramount to the team’s greater success as we enter the dog days of summer.
The final player on a countdown is a batter who has drawn some criticism for how he adds his value.
Next: Third on our countdown...