CLEVELAND — Coming off the worst start of his major league career, two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber will be on the mound Tuesday night when the Cleveland Indians host the Chicago White Sox in the first game of a three-game series.
Kluber (18-7, 2.91 ERA) will make his first start since a 6-5 loss in Tampa Bay on Sept. 9, when Kluber only lasted 1 2/3 innings, throwing 55 pitches. Forty-four of those pitches came in the second inning and resulted in only two outs. It’s the most pitches that Kluber has ever thrown in one inning.
In 1 2/3 innings, he gave up four runs and five hits with four strikeouts and one walk.
The Indians skipped Kluber’s next start, but it wasn’t because of that ugly start in Tampa Bay. It was because manager Terry Francona wanted to get Kluber lined up to pitch Game 1 of the American League Division Series, which will likely be Oct. 5 in Houston.
In the meantime, Kluber will have three starts remaining in the regular season, the first of those Tuesday night against a White Sox team that Kluber has historically done well against.
In his last start against Chicago, a 12-0 win on June 20, Kluber pitched seven scoreless innings and gave up one hit, with seven strikeouts and one walk.
In two starts against the White Sox this year, he is 2-0, having pitched 13 scoreless innings on four hits, with 17 strikeouts and one walk. In 22 career appearances against Chicago, he is 11-4 with a 2.90 ERA.
The Indians on Saturday clinched their third consecutive AL Central title, so Francona is able to use the final two weeks of the regular season to give some of his regulars occasional days off while trying to get two key veterans ramped up for the postseason.
Reliever Andrew Miller, who has made three separate trips to the disabled list this year, is still trying to get back into peak form.
“He’s taking steps in the right direction. He’s got to keep building,” Francona said.
The other veteran is third baseman Josh Donaldson, whom the Indians acquired in a trade with Toronto on Aug. 31. Donaldson missed most of this season with a calf strain. He has played in four games for the Indians since being activated off the disabled list and is hitting .154 (2-for-13) with one home run and one RBI.
“He just needs some reps,” Francona said. “Every time he plays it feels like an investment. The more he plays (the better he’ll be). He’s playing the heck out of third base. We’ve just got to get him his at-bats.”
Chicago’s starting pitcher on Tuesday will be left-hander Carlos Rodon (6-5, 3.10), who has historically pitched well against Cleveland.
Rodon’s last start came against Kansas City on Sept. 12, when he got no decision in a 4-2 White Sox victory. In that game, Rodon pitched six innings, allowing two runs and five hits, with five strikeouts and five walks.
Rodon’s last start against Cleveland came Aug. 10. The White Sox won that game 1-0, but Rodon did not get the decision, despite pitching eight scoreless innings on four hits with five strikeouts and two walks.
In three starts against the Indians this year, Rodon is 0-1 with a 2.79 ERA. In 13 career appearances against Cleveland, Rodon is 4-2 with a 2.44 ERA.
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