Jaffe: Corey Kluber’s historic 18-K performance

From SABR member Jay Jaffe at SI.com on May 14, 2015:

Roughed up in his previous four starts, reigning AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber got his groove back against the Cardinals on Wednesday night—and then some. Though his no-hit bid fell by the wayside in the seventh inning, his 18-strikeout performance was an outing for the ages, making history in a few different ways even if his departure after eight innings left a few loose ends.

Kluber struck out 18 of the 26 batters he faced and allowed just one hit, a single by Jhonny Peralta with two outs in the seventh. He didn’t walk anybody, though he did hit Matt Holliday with a pitch in the first inning. That plunking triggered an apparently retaliatory salvo from Cardinals starter John Lackey, who hit Jason Kipnis in the fourth, which led to manager Terry Francona’s ejection, which in turn carried further ramifications.

Indeed, the lingering question is, what could have happened if Kluber had pitched the ninth? His pitch count through eight innings was just 113, a season high but not uncharted territory for the 29-year-old righty. He has gone past that mark five times in his career, four of which came last year, including a personal best of 120 on Sept. 21 against the Twins. In that game, he also threw eight innings while matching his previous career high of 14 strikeouts, which he set just five days earlier against the Astros. In fact, all of Kluber’s outings of at least 110 pitches have been under nine full innings, and only two of them saw him even face a batter in the ninth. The three complete games of his major league career, all in 2014, featured pitch counts of 85, 101 and 104.

Read the full article here: http://www.si.com/mlb/2015/05/14/corey-kluber-18-strikeout-game-all-time-rank-baseball-history

Originally published: May 14, 2015. Last Updated: May 14, 2015.