After an amazing 2014 where Corey Kluber burst onto the scene and secured the Cy Young Award, many thought he would regress some in 2015 because it ward be hard for him to dominate on that scale in back to back years. Many owners will look at his 2015 stats, and think his 2014 was a fluke, but beneath some of those ugly outliers lies another stellar season, yet he still tends to be undervalued.
The most unsightly stats has to be his league high 16 loses which we know is not always an accurate predictor of just how good a pitcher is or is not. The Indians struggled all year on offense and Kluber’s run support was just about nonexistent further pressuring him to be on for every start. His run support averaged around three runs a game, which ranked him 75th out of all starters, so the 16 loses should be overlooked as nothing more than a representation of just how bad Cleveland’s offense was at times.
Kluber certainly had some struggles too, and he had some rough stretches where he could have actually been benched as he worked through his struggles. He came out of the gates slow as he had a 4.24 ERA over his first five starts, and then ended the season on a sour note as well posting a 4.15 ERA over his last four starts. But in between those rough stretches, you have a guy that did not have an ERA over 3.97 in any other month and averaged nearly 50 strikeouts a month which ranks him amongst the elite.
Kluber ended the season with a 3.49 ERA, clearly solid production and one that we would take from any of our pitchers. So while that is solid, it is even more encouraging to see his FIP sit at 2.97 last season, which was only .62 less than what it was in 2014. Then you also have the fact that Kluber dropped his WHIP and lowered his walks while remaining consistent across all of his peripherals compared to his 2014 season. Kluber had rough starts, but he was able to produce at the same rate as his breakout season which warrants optimism.
One area where Kluber is nearly untouched is his durability and strikeout totals. In 2015 he led the league in complete games and averaged just under seven innings per start which is pure fantasy gold. He stays in games and offers quality starts nearly every time he toes the rubber, which also drives up his K rates as he has been able to top over 230 Ks the last two seasons.
It seems as though that Kluber tends to be shuffled aside when discussing the top starters in fantasy because of some ugly outlier stats that owners tend to immediately look at and generalize as a knock on Kluber going forward. For me he is in the SP top five and should remain there as he has everything you could ask for in a fantasy ace. He offers the durability, strikeouts and ratios that you plug in each week and enjoy.
The Indians defense and offense will improve in 2016 and that will only further his production. So by looking at his peripherals and seeing that they were marginally better or nearly identical to what he did in 2015, I fully anticipate him competing for the AL Cy Young in 2016 once again.