Corey Kluber looked rusty in his return to the mound Thursday night, lasting 1.1 innings before exiting his first rehab start.
The Yankees right-hander, pitching for Double-A Somerset, threw just 20 strikes on 45 pitches against the Portland Sea Dogs. Kluber walked four and hit an additional two batters on his way to allowing five earned runs. He surrendered two hits and struck out one. The Patriots ultimately lost, 8-7.
It’s not that surprising that Kluber struggled with his command considering Thursday was his first outing since May 25. Kluber departed that game, a big-league start against the Blue Jays, after just three innings due to a right subscapularis muscle strain. He was subsequently placed on the 60-day injured list.
The two-time Cy Young winner, after tossing just 36.2 innings from 2019-2020, experienced similar woes at the beginning of the year. Kluber, whose seasons typically start off slow, lacked efficiency in his first handful of games for the Yankees. However, the $11 million free agent signing looked more and more like the dominant pitcher he was in Cleveland as the season progressed. Kluber averaged over seven innings per start over his five outings prior to the May 25 injury and recorded a 1.78 ERA over that span.
Kluber’s last full start, on May 19 against the Rangers, was a nine-strikeout no-hitter. Overall, he owns a 3.04 ERA in 10 big league starts this season.
Kluber is expected to make another rehab start in the next five or six days. The Yankees have expressed hope that the 35-year-old could be ready for the majors between the end of August and Sept. 1. If that plan holds, it will give Kluber time for a few more tune-ups and to pitch in meaningful September games for New York.
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