Corey "Klubot" Kluber won the Cy Young award in 2014. He regressed somewhat in 2015 before bouncing back last season. Kluber finished third in the 2016 Cy voting, although he led the league in advanced stats such as FIP and ERA+, which means there's a case to be made he should've won. Basically he was one of the best pitchers in baseball over the past three years despite it never feeling like it until the 2016 playoffs. That's when "Klubot" became a household name. Here is where he would rank in my "pitchers I trust in the playoffs":
Let me start by saying that if my life was on the line and I had to choose a starting pitcher that HAD to win a game seven of the World Series, I would want Madison Bumgarner. He's one of the two most clutch baseball players I've ever seen (David Ortiz being the other). The rest of the list goes like this:
Pitchers I trust based off previous playoff experience: Jon Lester, Corey Kluber, Noah Syndergaard
Pitchers who have had mixed playoffs results but I would trust based off talent: Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer
Pitchers who have never pitched in the playoffs that I would still trust: Chris Sale
Pitchers I would not trust: David Price
That's it. That's the list. In the 2016 playoffs Kluber started six games. He pitched to a 1.83 ERA with 35 strikeouts in 34 1/3 innings pitched. The Indians were without their number two and three starters, so Kluber was asked to pitch games 1, 4, and 7 of the World Series. He was excellent, with a 15/1 K/BB ratio against that Cubs team in the Fall Classic. He nearly pitched the Tribe to a championship before running out of gas in game seven. That's not his fault though. He was asked to do more than he should've.
So let's talk about Kluber in 2017. It's been a tale of two months for the ace right-hander. From Opening Day through May 2nd he posted a 5.06 ERA with SEVEN homers allowed through six games. However, he dealt with a blister on Opening Day and then had some lower back discomfort that put him on the DL. He returned June 1st and in the five starts since has a 1.29 ERA (with an even better 0.77 FIP). In 35 innings he has struck out 52, walked just six, and allowed ZERO homers. It's safe to say whatever was ailing him is in the past.
So what does this mean? Well the Tribe needs Klubot to be pitching like this. It doesn't appear as if Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar are ever going to be able to be counted on. Francisco Lindor has been struggling lately. Andrew Miller has been overworked. Michael Brantley is hurt again. Some things have gone well - mainly the bats of Edwin Encarnacian and Jose Ramirez - but Cleveland isn't waltzing to the playoffs the way many predicted back in March. The Twins are a real concern after sweeping The Indians in Cleveland this past weekend. Currently the Tribe sits at 41-36, just half a game ahead of Minnesota.
PS "Klubot" is an A+ nickname, and it works so well because that guy is literally emotionless on the mound. He doesn't get phased by anything, which is what you want in your ace.