Kluber boasts improved swing-and-miss rate

Kluber boasts improved swing-and-miss rate

CLEVELAND -- Corey Kluber has not been looking for strikeouts, but they have certainly found the Indians starter through the first six weeks of this season.

As a pitcher who relies heavily on a two-seam sinker, Kluber is more focused on inducing weak contact and working efficiently with his pitches. Through seven starts, the right-hander has also piled up 48 strikeouts to lead Cleveland's rotation.

"I don't feel like I'm doing anything different," Kluber said. "If I had to guess, I'd probably just say I'm consistently executing pitches a little more often. Maybe I'm not quite making as many mistakes and, if I do make a mistake, maybe I'm making a mistake to the right area instead of missing over the middle of the plate, and they're fouling it off rather than putting a good swing on it."

According to brooksbaseball.net, which compiles PITCHf/x data, Kluber had a swing-and-miss rate of 15.3 percent outside the strike zone, which is up from 12.7 percent in 2013. His miss rate on pitches inside the zone has dropped to 7.1 percent this year from 9.2 percent last season, meaning he is getting batters to chase more often so far in '14.

Kluber said that is a product of working ahead in the count, which is backed up by his 60.7 percent first-pitch strike rate. The righty has also registered strikes 66.2 percent of the time overall, compared with 64.4 percent over the course of his career.

On Sunday against the White Sox, Kluber struck out 13 batters (his second double-digit showing of the season) and he also set a franchise record with seven consecutive whiffs.

"I don't ever try to strike guys out," Kluber said. "I think it's just a product of executing pitches. I think I'm fortunate enough to have a couple pitches that I can get swings and misses with, if the situation presents itself. You still have to execute it, but I don't ever go into an at-bat [thinking strikeout].

"Maybe with the occasional runner on third, less than two outs, you might be like, 'This is a situation where a strikeout would help us,' but I still don't approach it as I want to get the guy to swing and miss at every pitch.

"You try to work ahead in the count, put the pressure on them and then, if you do get to that situation, then you can try to put them away."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.