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This is not how Corey Kluber's Cy Young defense was supposed to go

More like SIGH Young winner, amirite?

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Corey Kluber has not had things go as planned so far this season, as through six starts he is sitting on a 4.62 ERA and remains winless. Not all of that is his fault, as he certainly pitched well in each of his first three appearances, and was done in by the offense, defense, and/or bullpen in those games. His three most recent games have been a different story though, as he's allowed more than two base runners an inning and seen his strikeout rate fall.

Kluber's FIP for the season is still a very good 2.98, and I wouldn't say I'm especially concerned at this point, especially because the .468 BABIP he's allowed in those three games is ridiculously (and unsustainably) high, but this isn't the way you expect things to go for a reigning Cy Young winner. I found myself wondering how other recent winners of that award have done at the start of their next season. Since Kluber has made six starts so far, I decided to look at the first half dozen games from every other winner from the last decade and see how they did. I've also included each player's final numbers for that season.

*

First 6 starts

Full season

Pitcher (Cy Young year)

Team W-L

IP

ERA

Team W-L

IP

ERA

Corey Kluber (2014)

0-6

39.0

4.62

???

???

???

Clayton Kershaw (2014)

2-4

38.2

3.72

???

???

???

Max Scherzer (2013)

4-2

39.0

2.08

24-9

220.1

3.15

Clayton Kershaw (2013)

3-3

35.1

3.57

23-4

198.1

1.77

David Price (2012)

1-5

38.0

5.21

14-13

186.2

3.33

R.A. Dickey (2012)

2-4

36.0

4.50

17-17

224.2

4.21

Justin Verlander (2011)

3-3

45.1

2.38

21-12

238.1

2.64

Clayton Kershaw (2011)

5-1

37.2

2.63

21-12

227.2

2.53

Felix Hernandez (2010)

4-2

40.2

3.32

17-16

233.2

3.47

Roy Halladay (2010)

5-1

46.1

2.14

24-8

233.2

2.35

Zack Greinke (2009)

1-5

39.2

2.27

12-21

220.0

4.17

Tim Lincecum (2009)

5-1

42.1

1.70

21-12

212.1

3.43

Cliff Lee (2008)

1-5

39.0

3.92

16-18

231.2

3.22

Tim Lincecum (2008)

4-2

38.1

3.05

19-13

225.1

2.48

CC Sabathia (2007)

2-4

32.0

7.88

22-13

253.0

2.70

Jake Peavy (2007)

3-3

43.0

2.09

12-15

173.2

2.85

Johan Santana (2006)

3-3

40.0

3.60

17-16

219.0

3.33

Brandon Webb (2006)

5-1

42.0

3.21

22-12

236.1

3.01

Bartolo Colon (2005)

2-4

34.1

5.77

5-5

56.1

5.11

Chris Carpenter (2005)

4-2

40.0

1.80

20-12

221.2

3.09

Before I go any farther into this, I just want to point out that after his first six starts last season, Clayton Kershaw pitched 163 innings in 21 starts, with a 1.38 ERA, and that the Dodgers went 20-1 in those games. Holy smokes!

So, no team in the last decade had ever gone winless in the first six starts by a reigning Cy Young winner, so the Indians now have that going for them. No team has won them all either, which is somewhat surprising. It turns out though, that having the reigning Cy Young winner on the mound hasn't done anything to help teams early in the season, as the combined record of 20 teams represented is an even 60-60.

Half of the previous 18 winners lowered their ERA following their first six starts, while the other half saw their ERA rise. Regression to the mean, she cuts both ways.

In 13 of the previous 18 instances though, the players team(s) ended up with a winning record in their starts by the end of the season. The Tribe will have to get cracking if they're going to join that group though, what with the six-game hole they're in right now.

Kluber's 39 innings pitched match the median figure for this group of pitchers through their first six starts. His ERA ranks 17th of the 20 though. Fortunately, it's nowhere near as bad as the number Sabathia put up following his CY Young season. Because he had such an incredible end to that year (mostly for MIlwaukee), his dreadful beginning is often overlooked. Never forget though, Tribe fans, never forget.

In 15 of the the previous 18 instances, the pitcher finished the season with an ERA below 3.50. What has happened in recent years with other pitchers doesn't necessarily have much predictive value, but for what it's worth, right now ZiPS projects Kluber to finish this season with a 3.36 ERA, with a 3.08 figure between now and the end of the year.

Hopefully by the end of this afternoon, Kluber has picked up his first win of the season, and moved his ERA somewhere closer to 3.36.