CHICAGO — Corey Kluber doesn’t exactly have a wealth of experience pitching on short rest. But by the end of this World Series, it very well could become second nature for the Cleveland righthander.
Kluber, who started on three days’ rest for the first time in his career in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series against the Blue Jays, will do so again in Game 4 of the World Series on Saturday night. He’ll be opposed by Chicago’s John Lackey.
If this best-of-seven series goes the distance, Kluber will start Game 7 on three days’ rest, too.
“It’s just basically doing the same stuff in one less day,” said the understated Kluber, who quietly has put together one of the better individual postseasons in recent years (3-1 with a 0.74 ERA, including six shutout innings in Game 1 against the Cubs). “I don’t really feel like the last time I did it made a big difference in the way I felt the day I pitched.”
Kluber said he didn’t quite know what to expect from his body going into his Oct. 18 start against the Blue Jays. Though he took the loss in the 5-1 defeat, it’s not as if he pitched poorly. He allowed two runs and four hits in five innings, did not walk a batter and struck out nine.
“It was funny, because the last time in Toronto [on short rest], his legs got tired quick, and he was laughing about it after,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “He said, ‘You know, I was trying to be so conscious of my legs,’ and he goes, ‘I looked up [at the radar gun], and my stuff was exactly the same.’ In other words, I think he understands now that it was probably mental and that I think he’ll have a lot more sense of being able to be himself going into this start than he did the first time. And I thought the first time he did just fine.”
Kluber, who went 18-9 with a 3.14 ERA in the regular season, is known almost as much for his marriage to routine — which plays into his nickname, “Klubot’’ — as he is for a wicked curveball and nasty two-seam fastball.
Of his altered routine on three days’ rest, he said there really isn’t much to it.
“I don’t do a whole lot different,” Kluber said. “Maybe just spend a little more time trying to do a couple different recovery methods. But aside from throwing a little bit shorter side session, it’s not all that different for me. I think that I kind of had to feel my way through it when I pitched on short rest against Toronto the days in between to kind of figure out what would work for me. I think what we did worked well. I felt like I was good physically when we went out there and stuff. So just kind of try to stick with that same plan this time.”
Kluber also doesn’t make much of the praise he’s received for his willingness to do the unfamiliar this postseason.
“I think you could probably ask anybody on either team and they’re going to pitch whenever they’re called upon at this point in time,” he said. “I mean, it’s the last series of the year. It’s the World Series. I think you’d be really hard-pressed to find somebody who didn’t want to go out there and pitch.”