Corey Kluber Still the Ace for the Foreseeable Future

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Nov 2, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Corey Kluber throws a pitch against the Chicago Cubs in the first inning in game seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 2, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Corey Kluber throws a pitch against the Chicago Cubs in the first inning in game seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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Cleveland Indians starter Corey Kluber did not win his second Cy Young award this year, but he is still the team’s ace.

After Terry Francona was named American League Manager of the Year, Corey Kluber was next in line to bring an award back to Cleveland.

Unfortunately, the Cleveland Indians’ ace finished third in Cy Young voting, just two years after winning the award. While Kluber had a solid year, there were still other strong candidates for the award. Boston’s Rick Porcello ultimately took it home, while Detroit’s Justin Verlander finished second, and was arguably snubbed. Well, at least according to Kate Upton.

Kluber has been so consistent over the past four years it comes as no surprise that he was once again considered as one of the league’s best pitchers. Even in 2015, when he finished with a 9-16 record, he finished ninth in AL Cy Young voting thanks to a shifting focus from wins to other advanced statistics.

Some fans may believe Kluber deserved the award this year, but it is easy to forget that the award only takes regular season play into account. Because if the postseason counted, there is no way Porcello finishes in front of Kluber.

Kluber finished the postseason with a record of 4-1, starting six of the team’s 15 games. His only bad outing came in Game 7 of the World Series, his second straight start on short rest. His four runs in four innings of work did not lose the game, but it did put the Indians behind early.

But one rough start does nothing to take away what Kluber did in 2016, and what he should be able to do moving forward. Francona trusted his ace to make three World Series starts, putting the team’s chances in the hands of its best pitcher.

After logging 215 innings in the regular season, Kluber got through 34 1/3 innings in the postseason, striking out 35. Not bad for a guy pitching in his first postseason.

And based on how the team did in 2016 without some key players, the postseason should become familiar territory in the near future. Luckily, the Indians have Kluber under contract through 2019, with team options in 2020 and 2021. He will end the 2019 season at 33 years of age, meaning he is even an option for an extension before then, making sure he finishes his career in Cleveland.

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That is a bit too far ahead to think about now, but what fans do know is that Kluber can once again be relied upon to be dominant in 2017. And if the rest of the staff can stay healthy during another postseason run, Kluber should only be better, given some normal rest in October.

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