Not only is reigning Cy Young winner Corey Kluber winless through his first five starts, the Indians are 0-5 in those five games.
Kluber has also allowed the most hits (36) in the American League on the way to a 4.24 ERA after going 18-9 with a 2.44 ERA in 236 innings last season.
Toss in Kluber coming out of relative nowhere to win the Cy Young award last season at age 28 and it might seem like reason for the Indians and their fans to be worried. But they shouldn’t be.
For one thing, Kluber’s secondary numbers are every bit as impressive as last season with a 36/7 K/BB ratio and just two homers allowed in 34 innings. His struggles can largely be traced back to an unsustainably high .370 batting average on balls in play, compared to .318 last season. Whether you want to chalk that up to bad pitching, bad defense, or bad luck many of those balls in play will stop going for hits.
And here’s the other thing: Kluber wasn’t even really KLUBER last year until May. He had a 4.14 ERA and .300 opponents’ batting average in six April starts … and then had a 2.13 ERA in 28 starts after May 1. Kluber/KLUBER probably won’t end up repeating as the Cy Young winner because that’s really, really difficult for any pitcher, but if anything his first four starts are evidence that the guy who dominated for the final five months last season is still around. He’ll be just fine.