Corey Kluber is having an incredible season. On merit he would finish second to only Seattle Felix Hernandez in the Cy Young balloting, and the margin between the two of them has been shrinking.
The best season any Tribe pitcher has had this century is Cliff Lee's 2008, when he led the American League 2.54 ERA in 223.1 innings, and posted the lowest walk rate 1.37 BB/9) in baseball. Kluber's ERA right now is even lower (2.41), and while when you adjust for the run-scoring environment of each season and look at ERA+, Lee's is better, the margin there is shrinking too (and Kluber already has the lower adjusted FIP).
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More from Let's Go Tribe
Whether or not Kluber's season is ultimately better than Lee's will depend on what happens over the next few weeks. What we can already establish is that neither Cliff Lee or any other Indians pitcher has had a stretch as good as the one Kluber has had over the last two months.
I went back to the year 2000 to find the best 10-game stretches by Tribe pitchers. Ten isn't any more significant than nine or eleven, but people have ten fingers and people like round numbers, so I'm using 10-game stretches.
This was time-consuming enough as is, and it would have been unwieldy to go through every single starting pitcher the Indians have had during that stretch, so I limited my search to starters with 10+ starts (because obviously) and 2+ WAR and/or an ERA+ of 110+.
I accept that it's possible that someone had a below average stretch but still managed a dominant 10-game stretch, but I think we can all accept that such a thing is highly unlikely.
Because this is the 15th season of the 2000s, I'm giving you what I think are the 15 best stretches. I give them to you in chronological order:
|Bartolo Colon||4/23 to 6/11, 2002||74.1||1.94||3.29||1.12||5.93||2.30||0.61|
|Jake Westbrook||4/19 to 6/14, 2004||71.1||2.65||3.68||1.05||4.04||2.40||0.50|
|Cliff Lee||4/18 to 6/7, 2005||61.2||2.48||3.60||1.17||7.01||2.63||0.88|
|CC Sabathia||8/10 to 9/29, 2005||70.1||1.79||2.51||1.01||8.83||2.43||0.38|
|Kevin Millwood||8/11 to 9/30, 2005||68.0||2.38||3.43||1.25||6.22||2.51||0.66|
|Jeremy Sowers||7/22 to 9/12, 2006||65.2||2.33||3.69||1.08||3.70||2.06||0.41|
|CC Sabathia||8/6 to 9/26, 2006||76.1||2.59||2.99||1.02||8.14||1.53||0.71|
|Fausto Carmona||7/2 to 8/21, 2007||71.1||2.02||3.53||1.02||7.07||2.65||0.50|
|CC Sabathia||7/24 to 9/8, 2007||73.2||1.83||2.67||0.98||7.09||1.47||0.24|
|Cliff Lee||4/6 to 5/30, 2008||72.0||1.88||2.51||0.96||7.12||1.25||0.37|
|CC Sabathia||5/9 to 6/27, 2008||76.0||1.89||2.49||0.97||9.59||1.66||0.59|
|Cliff Lee||4/16 to 6/3, 2009||72.0||2.00||2.86||1.25||6.13||1.50||0.38|
|Justin Masterson||6/19 to 8/4, 2011||63.1||1.85||2.24||0.93||7.96||1.56||0.28|
|Ubaldo Jimenez||8/10 to 9/29, 2013||66.1||1.76||1.62||1.07||11.4||2.44||0.14|
|Corey Kluber||6/20 to 8/9, 2014||75.0||1.32||2.03||0.83||9.48||1.20||0.36|
Notice that Kluber has the lowest ERA (by nearly half a run), the lowest WHIP, and the lowest walk rate. He also has the second-lowest FIP (Ubaldo!), the third-highest strikout rate, and the third-highest total number of innings. Even accounting for the fact that run-scoring is down as compared to earlier years this century, I don't think there's much of a case for any of these other stretches having been as good as Kluber's.
Second place for me would probably be Sabathia's stretch from 2008 (those were his final ten appearances for the Indians... /sad trombone), but it's close, and there's a good case for a number of other ones.
Kluber takes the mound this afternoon in Minnesota, and you should find a way to ignore your job and follow along, because we haven't seen anyone head into a game on a roll like this for the Indians in the 21st century.