Four pitchers, four paths wind to first 200 strikeout quartet

Indians rotation the first in history to get four to 200 Ks

Alex Hooper
September 23, 2018 - 12:26 am
Sep 22, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Mike Clevinger (52) high fives catcher Yan Gomes (7) following the third out of the top of the the third inning at Progressive Field.

© Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Categories: 

Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – The Cleveland Indians starting pitching rotation may have the best two-year run of any staff in baseball history. That group became the greatest assembly of strikeout pitchers on Saturday, featuring the only quartet of pitchers to record 200 punch outs in a single season.

Mike Clevinger was the final righty to reach the plateau, freezing Boston Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. in the top of the 2nd inning. He joined teammates Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco and Corey Kluber.

Regardless of divisional prowess or declining contact rates league-wide, many other factors must align for a team to reach that mark. Or at least so it seems, given that it had never been done.

“I think, when you say it speaks to their health I think that speaks to their work ethic, too,” Manager Terry Francona said. “Because they prepare so well and they stay out there. And it was kind of a cool thing to see. It kind of snuck up on me tonight when it happened, but those guys ought to be proud of themselves.”

While there has only been one trail ever blazed to the quad-bicentennial season, each of the four have taken different paths to reach the finish line.

Trevor Bauer, the first to the 200-strikeout line in 2018, was always a highly-touted prospect, a top draft pick, and a collegiate Golden Spikes winner.

Carlos Carrasco battled a language and culture barrier while coming from Venezuela, and then had to battle back from bullpen obscurity to rediscover his spot in the rotation.

Corey Kluber was a borderline afterthought in the San Diego Padres organization before being dealt to the only Major League home he has ever known in his career, ascending to the top of his craft and being the steadiest within the current pantheon of pitchers.

Clevinger, a hard-throwing teenager, had to rediscover his own physical capabilities following Tommy John surgery before having to find the same sense of chill on the field that he exudes off of it.

“A lot of people are going to say it’s our division or whatever the case may be, but it’s a lot of work, a lot of effort, and a lot of process that went into all of our stories and the way we got here,” Clevinger said. “I’m just proud to be a part of this and be a part of this starting rotation. It took a while to get into, and you can see why. 

When the 27-year-old realized why Indians fans were erupting across Progressive Field in the 2nd inning of an inconsequential game, he had to take a step back to refocus on a two-out at-bat with a runner in scoring position.

So much of the accomplishment has been a product of the organization, both in acquiring the talent to mold, then turning each into a strikeout savant. Obviously, the inverse must have been true as well, each player pushing ahead in one way or another to arrive at their end point.

Kluber with his vaunted routines, Bauer with his on-brand arm maintenance and in-depth research, Clevinger with his stress-free attitude, and Carrasco with his light-hearted nature. All have been documented as having spread from one pitcher to another.

Young pitchers are sent to watch Kluber’s routine, and find a way to emulate them. Bauer has helped Clevinger add velocity through his unique studies on the game. Carrasco and Bauer teamed up in 2017 to create the mini-Indians out of baseballs and ballyard scraps, changing the public perception of Bauer, and perhaps that within the clubhouse. Clevinger, the newest addition to the bunch, has an infectious spirit and an odd-couple relationship with Bauer.

The accomplishment is not necessarily a culmination of all of those things, but each helped to make the current unit what it is now. That happens to be one of a kind.