Yankees: Corey Kluber feels good about the way he executed pitches despite poor results

Andres Chavez
New York Yankees, Corey Kluber
Apr 3, 2021; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Corey Kluber (28) pitches against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees fell to 3-4 on the season after dropping the first game of their series against the Tampa Bay Rays 10-5 at Tropicana Field on Friday. The two teams are set to play the second tilt on Saturday, as Domingo German will take the ball for the Bronx Bombers.

By failing to win, the Yankees didn’t send the message they intended. “I mean, we always want to send a message,” manager Aaron Boone said to MLB.com. “We always want you to know who you’re playing. But the message is sent throughout the year with our play, and we have to play consistent and play well. And if we do that, we’ll be the team we expect to be.”

For a second start in a row, Yankees’ starter Corey Kluber didn’t produce the best results on an evening in which he faced a sneaky good offense.

Kluber, signed by the Yankees this year to a one-year, $11 million contract, could only pitch 2 1/3 innings and ended up allowing five runs, three of which were earned. However, he was affected by iffy defensive play and some bad batted ball luck.

The Yankees’ starter had some terrible luck

As Jordan Horrobin pointed out, the second inning features three hits by the Rays with expected batting averages below .200, according to Statcast data. Two of those hitters came around to score and spoil Kluber’s line.

“That’s one of the funny things about baseball,” Kluber said. “I actually felt better about the way I executed pitches today, the way I felt out there. All you can do as a pitcher, honestly, is try to execute pitches. Once it leaves your hand, you’ve gotta flush whatever happens and move on to the next one.”

While it’s true that Kluber’s velocity has been down slightly to this point compared to the last season in which he pitched with some regularity, which is 2019, the Yankees’ veteran isn’t worried. His four-seamer has been averaging between 88 and 90 miles per hour and his sinker has been around 90. The former was at 92 mph and the latter at 91.3 two years ago. However, he said that velocity is “probably the furthest thing from my mind.”

Kluber has been historically better during the summer months than during April or May. The Yankees are hoping that’s still the case and he can turn things around.