MLB

Corey Kluber out long-term after tearing muscle in shoulder

Less than 20 pitches into his Texas Rangers career, and Corey Kluber faces a major setback

Kluber, who was acquired this offseason in exchange outfielder Delino DeShields and reliever Emmanuel Clase, made his first start since May of 2019 on Sunday, but was pulled in the first inning. The two-time AL Cy Young Award winner — 2014 and 2017 respectively — has been bit hard by the injury bug ever since he was drilled by a come-backer on the forearm on May 1, 2019. His initial comeback attempt was cut short thanks to an oblique injury last August.

The Rangers were initially thought of as a dark horse playoff team in this shortened season, and while they still feature a number of intriguing pieces in the rotation, this is a significant blow.

Losing Corey Kluber is a major blow to the Rangers rotation depth

Without Kluber, the Rangers will have to rely on the likes of Mike Minor, Lance Lynn, Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles to replace that production by committee. When healthy, there’s no one quite like Kluber, even had he not fully returned to his Cy Young form of just a few seasons ago.

Kluber finished top-3 in AL Cy Young voting in four out of five seasons from 2014-18. His accolades in Cleveland speak for themselves, and the initial excitement of seeing Kluber in the Rangers’ new powder blues is now replaced with anguish, as one of the game’s best hurlers may never return to the form we’re accustomed to.

Should his evaluation go well in just a few short weeks, Kluber could play a vital role in the pennant chase out of the Rangers’ bullpen. Yet, given his recent history, that’s a very large looming question.