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Cleveland Indians down to just two (2) Corey Klubers

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Maddness, you say? Wizardry? Perhaps, perhaps.

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Minnesota Twins David Berding-USA TODAY Sports

With baseball being the worst thing ever, we find Mike Clevinger on the shelf for about two months. It’s shocking, a huge bummer, a pretty big blow for a team that is still finding itself offensively and is counting on some unproven types in the bullpen. Any time you lose an ace level pitcher it stinks. Just look at the Indians — they’re down to just two Corey Klubers.

Even in the midst of this sadness around Clevinger, it’s neat that the Tribe has this metric to judge their pitching against, and to chart the amazing development surrounding their young guys. The first Kluber is Corey Kluber himself, who even with a hairy outing last week has had a typically sterling last calendar year. The amazing part though, is how closely Clevinger has replicated that over that same time span:

Clevinger vs. Kluber, last calendar year

Player IP K% BB% ERA FIP xFIP GB% HR/FB fWAR
Player IP K% BB% ERA FIP xFIP GB% HR/FB fWAR
Clevinger 212 26.9 8.3 2.84 3.34 3.70 40.6% 10.0% 5.0
Kluber 217.1 25.9 4.3 3.02 3.10 3.22 43.4% 11.8% 5.8

As strong as Clevinger has been before getting hurt, and as iffy at times as Kluber has been in the early goings, it’s stark how similar they are over their last 200 or so innings. It’s up to the reader to decide how they feel about it, but it’s certainly encouraging for Clevinger. Well, it was anyway. It would be mostly wrong to see this comp as a denigration of Kluber, Clevinger has just flourished, and we hope this is just a bump in the road, one the Indians are uniquely capable of absorbing.

The other Kluber is, obviously, Trevor Bauer. Who else could it be? Carrasco is just too much of himself. While Clevinger has been very good over the last year, Bauer has been about as good as you can be. Which means he was something resembling either Kluber’s 2014 and 2017. Both seasons nabbed a Cy Young, and the pair of them helped ensconce Kluber in the upper echelons of major league pitching. Bauer has, not too quietly (and by his own admission on Twitter), been just as good:

Trevor Bauer’s last year vs. Cy Klubers

Player IP K% BB% ERA FIP xFIP GB% HR/FB% fWAR
Player IP K% BB% ERA FIP xFIP GB% HR/FB% fWAR
14 Kluber 235.2 28.3 5.4 2.44 2.35 2.57 48.0 7.4 7.1
17 Kluber 203.2 34.1 4.6 2.25 2.50 2.52 44.5 13.5 7.3
Bauer 365 189.1 31.0 8.3 2.09 2.44 3.19 44.7 5.8 6.2

The only knock is the counting stats — the innings, really — and that’s not even Bauer’s fault. If that liner hadn’t fractured his shin he’d have easily surpassed 200 innings and probably one his first Cy Young himself. Other than that we’re just splitting hairs on percentage points and a run here or there. Of particular note is Bauer’s home run rate, especially in an era of more homers than ever. Suffice to say, he’s been incredible and as we’ve seen this season so far, it’s plain he’s just gotten started.

So it’s a dark time right now, a big bummer that Clevinger is out for quite a while. The fact that the Indians can likely shrug it off with comparatively minor impact — assuming the offense is actually waking up and Lindor will come back no worse for wear — is a testament to the team’s ability to build pitchers. They’ll still miss Clevinger, but less than if they were the Rays with Blake Snell say, or the Pirates with Chris Archer.

There are other concerns certainly, but right now they have two Cy Young caliber pitchers, plus Carlos Carrasco and Shane Bieber. That’s pretty good to gut out two months of baseball.