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Corey Kluber, new Texas Ranger: What you need to know

A rundown on new Texas Rangers starting pitcher Corey Kluber

Cleveland Indians v Miami Marlins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Corey Kluber has reportedly been traded to the Texas Rangers by the Cleveland Indians. Here’s a rundown on the 33 year old righthanded starting pitcher.

Kluber was born in Birmingham, Alabama, but went to high school in Coppell, Texas. He was a 4th round draft pick of the San Diego Padres out of Stetson University, and ended up getting dealt to the Cleveland Indians in a complicated three-way deal at the July, 2010, trade deadline. San Diego sent Kluber to the Indians and Nick Greenwood to the St. Louis Cardinals, and received outfielder Ryan Ludwick from the Cardinals. The Cardinals received Jake Westbrook from the Indians.

That deal turned into one of the all time great steals, as Kluber blossomed into an ace for the Indians. From 2014 through 2018, he put up a 2.85 ERA and a 2.83 FIP in 1091.1 IP over 160 starts, for a total of 32.4 bWAR. If you prefer fWAR, Kluber had a 30.4 fWAR from 2014-18. Over that stretch, Kluber won 2 Cy Young Awards, finished 3rd in the Cy Young balloting twice, and finished 9th the other time.

Kluber missed most of the 2019 season due to a broken right arm suffered on a line drive back up the middle against the Miami Marlins, then abdominal tightness that halted his rehab assignment in August. The injury was believed to have depressed Kluber’s trade value. He had been rumored to be a player of interest for the San Diego Padres and the Los Angeles Dodgers recently, among other teams.

Kluber has five pitches — he uses his cutter, his sinker, and his curveball each about 20-30% of the time, and also has a four seamer and a changeup he uses about 10% of the time each.

He’s been one of the best starting pitchers in baseball. He misses bats and doesn’t walk guys. If he’s close to his 2014-18 level in 2020, the Rangers have a legit #1 starting pitcher, and one of the best rotations in baseball.

The caveats are that, in 5 April starts last year, he wasn’t good — he had a 5.80 ERA, albeit with a 4.06 FIP, and an uncharacteristically high walk rate in 35.2 IP. He’s also going to be 34 next year and is coming off an injury.

All that being said...this is a huge pickup for the Rangers. We still have to see who is going to the Indians in this deal, but the Rangers are a hell of a lot better today than they were yesterday.