Worse case.

Corey Kluber walks off the mound after a line drive breaks his arm.

Worst case scenario on the Kluber trade is he turns out being close to what he was in seven games with the Indians last season.

Kluber struggled to a 5.80 ERA, and a WHIP of 1.654. His league adjusted ERA+ was 82. The league average is 100. In his five previous seasons, in reverse, his ERA+ was 150, 202 (led all baseball), 144 (led the American League), 123, and 160, meaning, for five seasons leading up to last year, he was elite.

There’s no denying Kluber had a bad 2019. How bad? If you look at the final numbers, it was low-end-Rangers-starter bad. But looking at his starts tells a different story.

He went seven innings against Minnesota in his first start, giving up two earned. Seven against Detroit, allowing one. Picked up a win against Atlanta going seven but giving up four earned. And had a good but not great start against Houston, going five, giving up three. He had two duds in his seven starts that really polluted his numbers. 

This was a pitcher who, like so many pitchers, comes out of the gate a bit more sluggish than normal and was just trying to find his rhythm when he was drilled in the right forearm by a 102-mile-per-hour line drive.

Compare Kluber’s 5.80/1.654/82 (ERA/WHIP/ERA+) with some of the other band of grateful dreads Texas ran out last season.

Ariel Jurado: 5.81/1.504/89.

Drew Smyly: 8.42/1.909/62.

Adrian Sampson: 5.89/1.532/88.

Shelby Miller: 8.59/1.977/61.

Kolby Allard: 4.96/1.566/105.

Brock Burke: 7.43/1.538/70.

Edinson Volquez: 6.75/2.000/78.

Joe Palumbo: 9.18/1.740/57.

It’s highly unlikely Corey Kluber has fallen from being one of the premier pitchers in major league baseball to a bottom feeder. But, assuming he did, the Rangers, at worst, picked up a pitcher who would have been their number 3 starter last season. 

Here’s betting the needle in 2020 points much closer to elite than it does to Jurado.

How does the Worst Kluber Ever compare to the other new guys? 

Again, 2019 Kluber: 5.80/1.654/82.

Kyle Gibson’s career: 4.53/1.411/94.

Jordan Lyles’s career: 5.11/1.436/83.

So, at worst, Jon Daniels made a deal for the same dime-a-dozen pitcher he is so fond of. 

At best? 

Dream big.


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