Make no mistake about it, New York Yankees fans still need to see a lot more from Corey Kluber, but Tuesday night was perfect timing to end his recent run of form … and to distract fans from bigger, more concerning narratives.
On Tuesday, the Yankees traded Mike Tauchman to the San Francisco Giants and manager Aaron Boone told the media that playing time would be split between Gary Sanchez and Kyle Higashioka (who started tonight) on a “day-to-day” basis.
Why trade Tauchman for a reliever for a 4.72 career ERA? The Sock Man was a much more valuable bench piece than Tyler Wade. And what’s the situation with Sanchez? Is he going to be traded? At the very least, has he officially lost his starting job?
It doesn’t matter for now! Because Kluber tossed his first quality outing of the season and gave Yankees fans what they were hoping for the day he was signed.
Everyone needed a good old distraction from all the nonsense, which the start of the season has been filled with.
How about this line for the Klubot?!
First win of the season. First time getting out of the fourth inning. First time allowing one earned run or fewer. Kluber is far from “back,” but we saw promising signs on Tuesday night.
His location was the best it’s been (by far) in 2021 and his trademark curveball was snapping. He was elevating his fastball and getting hitters to chase it. He hardly hung any pitches in the zone for the O’s to take advantage of.
And 17 swings and misses? Yeah, that’s what we want.
Kluber lasted 96 pitches, which was the most he’s thrown in a game in over two years (he threw over 100 pitches against the Braves in a start on April 20, 2019). And look at that mix! All of his five pitches were utilized effectively against a solid Orioles lineup.
The two-time Cy Young winner is clearly still getting back on the horse. It’s not easy to come back after two serious injuries and just 36.2 innings pitched across the last two years. Yankees fans have been impatient after his first four starts, but perhaps Kluber starts to shift the narrative now that he’s finding his footing.
The starting rotation can’t afford many more outings that don’t go beyond four innings. At the very least, we know Kluber, if he’s “on,” is still capable of putting forth outings like this. Now we just need to see more of them.