The Cleveland Indians have been without their longtime ace for, well, a long time. On Thursday, Corey Kluber officially sets out to rejoin his team.
Corey Kluber will make his first rehab start on Thursday for Triple-A Columbus. It has been over three months since Kluber’s right forearm was fractured by a line drive. When it’s all said and done, it will be closer to four months since Kluber last suited up for the Cleveland Indians.
The impending return of the two-time Cy Young winner throws another wrinkle into the equation for teams trying to figure out how to deal with this resurgent Cleveland squad. The Indians are coming off a three-game series in which their entire pitching staff allowed two earned runs.
What’s most impressive about that appropriately italicized statistic is that neither Mike Clevinger nor Shane Bieber threw a single pitch against the Texas Rangers this week. The Indians trotted out two rookies–one of whom was making his second career start in Aaron Civale.
Together, Civale and Zach Plesac allowed one run over 12 innings. The Tribe’s bullpen took care of the other 15 innings, including all nine of the second game of Wednesday’s doubleheader. Oliver Perez allowed the other earned run–singular–on a solo homer to Willie Calhoun.
The Rangers series is an extreme example and is in no way sustainable, but the point remains: the Indians’ staff owns the lowest ERA in the American League since May 2 without Kluber. And now they are just a couple of successful rehab starts away from getting him back.
Make no assumptions and take nothing for granted, but a cautious timeline for Kluber’s return to the Indians would be the first week of September. Depending on how his body responds to his rehab outings, the final week of August isn’t out of the question, either.
The deputies in the Indians’ rotation have done a superb job quelling the unrest and anarchy since May 1. But with the pennant race coming down to the wire, it sure will be nice to have the sheriff back in town, too.