May 3: The Indians announced today that Kluber has been placed on the 10-day injured list. Right-hander Jon Edwards is up from Triple-A Columbus in his place.
At the moment, it’s not believed that Kluber’s arm will require surgical repair. While that’s surely a sigh of relief for Cleveland fans, Kluber still looks to be facing a sizable absence. He’ll be reevaluated after three to four weeks without throwing (Twitter link via Tom Withers of the Associated Press). There’s no guarantee he’ll be ready to resume throwing at that point, though, and even if that were the case, he’d surely require a rehab assignment to build arm strength.
May 1: The Indians have suffered another injury in the rotation, as two-time AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber was diagnosed with a non-displaced fracture in his right ulna tonight, per a team announcement. The injury occurred when Kluber was struck on the right arm by a 102 mph comeback line-drive off the bat of the Marlins’ Brian Anderson. Kluber will be reevaluated Thursday when the team returns to Cleveland, at which point a timetable for his return will become clear.
Kluber, 33, was off to one of the worst starts of his excellent career in 2019, having posted a dismal 5.80 ERA with 9.6 K/9, 3.8 BB/9 and a 40 percent ground-ball rate in 35 2/3 innings of work (including tonight’s truncated outing). Those struggles notwithstanding, the injury is a devastating blow to an Indians rotation that is already without Mike Clevinger for what figures to be more than two months due to a rather significant teres major strain. Kluber had been haunted by a .380 average on balls in play and an abnormally low 64.5 percent strand rate so far in 2019, and fielding-independent metrics pegged him as a rebound candidate moving forward.
Now that Kluber is sidelined, the once-formidable Indians rotation suddenly looks quite top-heavy. Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco remain premium rotation horses (despite one disastrous outing from the latter earlier this year), and young righty Shane Bieber carries plenty of promise. But the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation will likely be entrusted to inexperienced righties Jefry Rodriguez and Adam Plutko — neither of whom has enjoyed sustained success at the MLB level to this point in his career.
Cleveland already trails the Twins by two games in the American League Central (2.5 games if the Minnesota bullpen can hold its current 5-0 lead over Houston for one more inning). While there’s certainly plenty of season left, the pitching staff — and the rotation, in particular — was supposed to be the lifeblood of a roster that currently ranks 25th in the Majors in runs scored and 28th in wRC+.