There is no doubt that Masahiro Tanaka’s complete dominance of most of the baseball world deserves recognition. However, because of the New York Yankees’ recent struggles and unsteady place in the AL East standings, Tanaka didn’t deserve the American League Pitcher of the Month Award for May.
Among the other AL pitchers who deserved to win, one stands out because of both his strong numbers and his importance to his ball club in the month of May. In the rotation as the number two starter behind Justin Masterson, Corey Kluber has been lights out lately for a Cleveland Indians team that has been on a major upswing lately, turning a season that looked like it was headed straight to the bottom of Lake Erie into an effort that does more than simply stay afloat.
Beyond just his numbers and looking at the broader picture, Kluber’s importance to his club during the Indians’ current six-game win streak is paramount. His win against the Colorado Rockies on May 30 started the Tribe’s overall win streak and extended the team’s home win streak, which stands right now at nine games, to four games. Overall in the month of May, Kluber posted a 4-0 record with a 2.09 ERA in six starts. He struck out 60 and walked eight in 43 innings pitched, making his May WHIP a superb 0.98.
Though Kluber turned an average performance last night against the Boston Red Sox in his first start in the month of June, going 6.1 innings and giving up four runs on five hits with two walks and four strikeouts and earning a no-decision, the outing still kept the Indians in the game and the Tribe wound up with a 7-4 walk-off win in 12 innings. The Indians keep reaching new heights with Kluber and his pitching as a cornerstone, and that’s something that Tanaka and the Yankees cannot claim.