Posted May 2, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
After a sluggish April, the Cleveland Indians didn’t exactly start May the way they wanted to. In addition to losing to the Marlins on Wednesday, the Tribe appears to have lost ace Corey Kluber for the immediate future. Kluber suffered a non-displaced fracture of his right forearm. Despite Kluber getting off to a slow start this year, it’s a major blow to the Indians, who have not seized control of the AL Central the way they have in previous years.
Kluber suffered the injury when he was strike by a line drive hit by Miami outfielder Brian Anderson in the 5th inning of Wednesday’s game. The ball was hit with an exit velocity over 102 mph, fracturing the bone in Kluber’s right forearm. Needless to say, Kluber was immediately removed from the game. The Indians don’t yet have a timeline for Kluber’s return, but a trip to the Injured List figures to be inevitable.
“I worry about the players,” Indians manager Terry Francona said after the game. “You always figure that we’ll figure something out as a team. But you worry about the guys because you care about them. But you saw it. It looked ugly. You just worry about guys.”
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While the Indians haven’t given a timeline, it’s likely that Kluber will miss a significant chunk of the season. The two-time Cy Young winner was put in a cast following the injury, making a quick turnaround unlikely. Based on similar injuries by other players, a two-month absence might be a fair estimate. Cleveland shouldn’t plan on having Kluber back until at least July, possibly August.
As mentioned, Kluber has had a poor start to the season by his standards. After getting the loss on Wednesday, he’s now 2-3 with a 5.80 ERA in his first seven starts in 2019. However, it’s safe to assume that he eventually would have gotten things on track and pitched at a high level. But now the Indians will have to wait a while longer until there’s any hope of seeing Kluber pitch at an ace level and lead their rotaiton.
Cleveland’s issues are compounded by the continued absence of both Mike Clevinger and Danny Salazar. Clevinger pitched at an ace level in his first two starts until being sidelined with a back injury. It’ll be more than a month until he’s even eligible to come off the IL. Meanwhile, Salazar hasn’t pitched since 2017 because of a shoulder injury and is still working his way back. That’s three key starters missing from what is usually one of the best rotations in baseball when healthy.
On the bright side, Trevor Bauer has stepped up as the leader of Cleveland’s rotation. Shane Bieber is also in the midst of a breakout season. However, Carlos Carrasco has struggled early in the season, and now they will have to dip deep into their farm system to fill the remaining spots in their rotation.
It’d be one thing if the injuries to Cleveland starters were short-term ailments. But it doesn’t look like Kluber will be back anytime soon. The same is true for both Clevinger and Salazar. The Indians are built to win behind a dominant rotation, and now that rotation is missing several key figures. With the injury to Kluber, it’s safe to say that the Indians are officially vulnerable of losing their AL Central crown.