On the other end of the name recognition spectrum, there are plenty of baseball fans that had never heard of Corey Kluber before he won the American League Cy Young Award in 2014, and there are probably still quite a few that couldn’t pick him out of a lineup.
No matter, the 28-year old right-hander is expected to cash in on his breakout performance that included an AL-best 2.35 FIP in a league-high 34 starts. Kluber pitched a workman-like 235.2 innings, three complete games, one shutout and compiled 269 strikeouts in the process. He’s a big reason Cleveland is one of the trendy picks to win the World Series this season – something the franchise hasn’t done since 1920.
Far from a one-man show however, the Indians also have Carlos Carrasco near the top of their rotation. The pair combined to produce a 1.75 ERA, 170 K’s and just 27 walks across their final 20 starts – 10 apiece.
Still, not many people know a lot about Carrasco either. After all, he started only 14 games last year and the overall unproven track record of the rotation is a slight concern.
"“That gave us probably two of the hotter pitchers in the game [last year],” manager Terry Francona said last week. “You don’t just push a button and have that happen again. That’s in there, but they have to get on a roll and then stay on the roll, which I think they can.”"
In addition to Kluber and Carrasco, Cleveland hopes Trevor Bauer can build upon his first full big league season and capitalize upon the potential that made him the third overall pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. Lefty T.J. House earned the fourth spot in the rotation following a solid rookie campaign and Zach McAllister rounds out the staff.
Next: 7. New York Mets