While the season hasn’t gone necessarily as planned for the Cleveland Indians, there have been a couple of players who have risen up to play as well as any in the American League, and there are two in particular who could be on their way to Minnesota for this season’s All-Star game next month between the American and National League squads.
Corey Kluber, who leads the AL in strikeouts, has been outstanding for the team in 2014, and is 6-3 with a 3.04 ERA in an AL-high 12 starts after Friday night’s 5-2 win over the Colorado Rockies. Kulber has 95 strikeouts in 2014, and with 60 in the month of May is just one of five Indians ever to record 60 Ks in a single month.
In the month of May, Kluber was 4-0 with a 2.09 ERA, allowing just 10 earned runs in 43 innings on the mound. He had six starts, striking out 60 and walking just eight batters. The 60 strikeouts during May for Kluber are the most for an Indians pitcher in any calendar month since Dennis Eckersley registered the same amount in September of 1976.
No one saw this coming from Kluber, and there have got to be some internal discussions about the future of the Tribe pitcher, who will be arbitration eligible in 2015. The team may shift their thoughts about giving Justin Masterson a long-term deal and instead give it to Kluber, signing him now before his price gets too high.
While Kluber’s big season has been a surprise, Michael Brantley has slowly made the rise into superstardom the last few seasons, and has been perhaps the most valuable player on the team thus far in 2014. While hitting in the .280s the last two seasons, this year Brantley is over .300 at .309, and leads the Indians in 2014 with nine homers and 39 RBIs. He’s also hitting a team-high .374 OBP with 63 hits, some of which have been the biggest so far this season for the Indians like the homer to beat the Detroit Tigers in a series opener last week.
Brantley was the throw-in player in the trade that saw C.C. Sabathia move from the Indians to the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008, but in the end Brantley will go down as the best player to come to the Indians in the deal. He’s also been sensational in left field, putting up five assists. There’s no question that he should get major consideration for the All-Star club this year.
With Indians skipper Terry Francona as part of the All-Star coaching squad, Kluber and Brantley should get major consideration for the team, and with good reason. Both have done more than enough to get to be part of the All-Star festivities this season.