I don't know what I was doing when it was mentioned last week, but Corey Kluber was named American League Pitcher of the Month for September. (Adam Wainwright won the NL edition.) Kluber's numbers were awesome for the season's final month, as he posted a 2.09 ERA in 43.0 innings, with an MLB best 56 strikeouts. Along the way he had 14 strikeouts in back-to-game starts, just the 9th pitcher ever to due that. (The previous eight: Sam McDowell, Bob Gibson, Mickey Lolich, Dwight Gooden, Jose Rijo, Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, and Pedro Martinez.)
Kluber's first start of the month was his worst of the season, as he gave up 5 runs in just 2.2 innings. After that he steamrolled to the finish line, and if that one bad game had happened on the final day of August instead, Kluber's September ERA would have been 1.12, and he'd have averaged more than 8 innings a start, with more than 12 strikeouts per 9 innings.
The Pitcher of the Month Award has been around since 2003. In those 12 seasons, only five Indians have won it:
- CC Sabathia (May, 2006)
- Fausto Carmona (September, 2007)
- Cliff Lee (April and August, 2008)
- Ubaldo Jimenez (September, 2013)
- Corey Kluber (September, 2014)
Like Cliff Lee's winning months, Kluber's incredible September was part of an almost equally incredible season, and he could join Lee in winning the Cy Young Award as well.
As good as Kluber was in September though, I don't know that he deserved this honor. Let's compare his line to a mystery pitcher:
I don't want to be accused of homerism when I argue that Kluber deserves to win the Cy Young Award next month. I'm willing to admit when someone else has been a little better than Kluber, and while both the guys in that table were tremendous in September, I think the second line is a bit more impressive.
Who was that mystery pitcher, the man arguably robbed of this honor? Carlos Carrasco, that's who.
Not too shabby, that Tribe rotation.