Tue 12/05/2015 - 18:19 EDT

What Is Wrong With AL Cy Young Winner Corey Kluber?

One of the most odd things that we have seen thus far in the baseball season has been the rather swift fall from grace for Indians ace Corey Kluber. He's 0-5 with a 5.04 ERA entering Wednesday's interleague game against St. Louis. However, BetOnline lists the Tribe as -127 favorites for the game with a total of 7.5 runs.

Kluber was a surprise AL Cy Young Award winner last season. Kluber captured 17 first-place votes and 169 points, narrowly edging out Felix Hernandez of the Mariners who earned the other 13 first-place votes and 159 points. Kluber enjoyed a breakthrough 2014 season, his second full year as a starter, going 18-9 with a 2.44 ERA and 269 strikeouts in 235 2/3 innings. The right-hander led the league in wins, finished second in strikeouts, third in innings pitched and was third in ERA. Hernandez had the lower ERA; Kluber had more strikeouts. Neither pitcher benefited from a high total of unearned runs. Hernandez allowed 72 runs and Kluber 68.

Kluber was dominant down the stretch with the Indians (85-77), who fell just short of a postseason berth despite posting a winning record for the second straight year. He posted a 1.73 ERA after the All-Star break and won his last five starts, recording 54 strikeouts and a 1.12 ERA over that stretch. Kluber became the fourth Indians pitcher to win the award, joining Cliff Lee (2008), CC Sabathia (2007) and Gaylord Perry.

Rare Company Without Win Yet

And it appears Kluber is getting worse not better. He has gone 0-4 with a 7.43 ERA and a .982 opponents' OPS in his past four starts. He gave up five runs and struck out seven in 5 2/3 innings of a loss to the Royals last Thursday in Kansas City. Kluber's first three starts were solid as he allowed six runs in 21 2/3 innings; since then, 22 runs in 23 innings. He has allowed has allowed 28 runs, which is as many runs as he allowed last year in his final 18 starts. He joins Frank Viola and Zack Greinke as Cy Young winners to go winless in their first seven starts the following season.

Last season, his curveball was the pitch that won him that Cy Young Award. Batters hit just .091 against it (19-for-209) with no home runs. In 2014, he had 454 plate appearances that ended with a fastball, 47.7 percent of all his batters faced; this season, 56 percent of his plate appearances are ending in fastball. While his curveball hasn't been quite as dominant so far -- hitters are 6-for-31 (.194), including a Russell Martin home run -- he just isn't getting to those curveball counts quite as often. We can see this with the number of balls in play 0-0, 1-0 and 2-0 counts. Last year, he averaged 5.7 balls in play per start on those counts; this year, it's 6.9 and batters are doing a lot more damage, hitting .478 compared to .356 last year.

Batters hitting .286 on ground balls compared to .236 last season, and .475 on fly balls compared to .416 last season. But those balls in play have been hit harder. His "well-hit average" was .139 last year; it's .179 this year.

Kluber will be countered by John Lackey (2-1, 3.20) in this game. Lackey pitched a season-high 7 2/3 innings and struck out a season-high 10 in his last start, a win over the Cubs. 

Key Betting Trends

Cardinals are 4-0 in Lackeys last 4 starts with 5 days of rest. Cardinals are 4-1 in Lackeys last 5 starts following a Quality Start in his last appearance. Cardinals are 4-1 in Lackeys last 5 starts. Cardinals are 1-5 in Lackeys last 6 road starts.

Indians are 0-6 in Klubers last 6 starts as a favorite. Indians are 0-5 in Klubers last 5 starts as a favorite of -110 to -150. Indians are 0-4 in Klubers last 4 starts vs. a team with a winning record. Indians are 0-7 in Klubers last 7 starts.

Category : Sports Betting News

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