Corey Kluber, the ace starting pitcher for the Cleveland Indians, fractured his right pitching arm in a game against the Miami Marlins on Wednesday night and will be out indefinitely.
It happened in the bottom of the fifth inning with the Marlins up 3-1. Third-baseman Brian Anderson smashed a 102mph comebacker which Kluber had no chance of avoiding. With his arm dangling, the pitcher tried to make a play at first by flipping the ball with his glove. To no avail — the runner was safe and Kluber was removed from the game, his arm immediately put in a cast.
Immediate x-rays revealed a non-displaced fracture of his ulna bone, which means that the bone is still aligned, potentially leading to a quicker recovery time than if it was a displaced fracture.
Manager Terry Francona says the team will have a better picture of the situation later today.
“It showed a non-displaced fracture,” he told reporters after the game. “So obviously, we’ll get him imaged tomorrow back in Cleveland. Dr. Graham will look at him. And we’ll have, hopefully, a lot more information then.”
Kluber had been struggling to start the 2019 season. Last year, the two-time CY Young Award winner – nicknamed the ‘Klubot’ – was 20-7 with a 2.89 ERA. This year, Kluber started just 2-3 with a 5.89 ERA, and he was again looking off against the Marlins before getting hurt, allowing eight hits and three runs through 4.2 innings.
How Long is Corey Kluber Out For?
According to Orthinfo, ulna fractures can take anywhere from three to six months to heal, depending on the severity of the break.
The fact that it’s a non-displaced fracture should help shorten the healing time, but even if that’s the case, Cleveland is certain to bring him along slowly, given that it’s his throwing arm.
Even in the best-case scenario, it appears that Kluber will be out of the Indians lineup for at least a few months, and it’s anyone’s guess as to how long it will take for his finely tuned pitching arm to feel normal again.
Who Will Replace Kluber in the Starting Lineup?
Kluber may have been struggling to start the season, but his absence leaves a massive hole in an Indians starting rotation which was already shorthanded and lacking depth.
Fellow starting pitcher Mike Clevinger has been out since April 7th with a strained back muscle. Initial reports had him out of the lineup for up to eight weeks.
It creates chaos in Cleveland at a time when the Indians are chasing the Twins for first place in the American League Central, currently 2.5 games back.
What are their options to fill out the starting rotation? There are arms available, but none of them are going to give Indians fans much hope. Chih-Wei Hu would appear to be the most natural replacement, but he has struggled to a 5.01 ERA for their Triple-A affiliate.
Sam Hentges is another option, but he’s 0-4 with an 8.02 ERA in Double-A ball. Adam Plutko is the man most likely to fill in for Kluber in the medium term, but he’s still at least a week away from action as he rehabs from a forearm strain.
That leaves Cody Anderson as the most likely option in the short term, though he has yet to last even three innings in an appearance this year.