Corey Kluber has pitched only 36 2/3 innings in the last two seasons. Injuries have taken a lot of playing time for the 34-year-old hurler in both 2019 and 2020. However, even with that being the case, he ended up with a nice, one-year deal worth about $11 million in free agency. Which team gave it to him? The New York Yankees.
According to former pitcher and current analyst David Cone, someone who pitched a perfect game and won five World Series (four with the New York Yankees) the Bombers shouldn’t be too worried about Kluber’s injury issues in the last two campaigns.
â€œI think itâ€™s quite the opposite, actually,â€ Cone said on the YES Networkâ€™s â€œYankees Hot Stoveâ€ on Monday night.
In 2019, the newest member of the Yankees was hit by a line drive that resulted in a fractured arm after 35 2/3 innings. In 2020, he suffered a teres major muscle tear that limited him to just one frame.
No worries, according to Cone.
“If I were Corey Kluberâ€™s agent, I would sell it this way: He didnâ€™t really have a rotator cuff injury,â€ Cone said. â€œHe had a teres major injury, which is below the lat muscle, below the bigger muscle. The trend with those types of injuries is that it takes a little longer to heal but once it heals, those guys come back full strength. Thereâ€™s a good track record as far as that goes. Youâ€™re still talking about a power pitcher thatâ€™s had a couple of freak injuries, too. Hit by a line drive. The last two years, itâ€™s been a combination of both. If youâ€™re looking at the injuries, itâ€™s much better to have those types of injuries than say a labrum injury or to have rotator cuff surgery. So, those are a little tougher to come back from.”
Could the Yankees get vintage Kluber?
He has a point. Kluber has a chance to be something close to the hurler he was in 2018, when he had a 2.89 ERA and a 3.12 FIP in 215 innings, with more than a strikeout per frame.
Of course, it may be unrealistic for the Yankees to expect him to throw 215 innings again.
“That is the ultimate question, right?â€ Cone said. â€œWe really just donâ€™t know. Kind of going in blind here with all these players and not having gone through this before. But the thing with Kluber is, he is healthy, and he showed good strength in that workout he had. Everybody left and saw him throw free and easy with that arm speed, know exactly what he brings to the table. Heâ€™s one of the premier power and precision type pitchers.”