Bringing Corey Kluber aboard could come with an ancillary benefit of mentorship for our young pitchers.
I posted this in a part of a longer post in another thread, but it’s a better fit here. I think there's a good chance that Kluber can have a direct impact on pitchers like Kutter Crawford, Josh Winckowski, Tanner Houck, Brayan Bello, Connor Seabold and more. Many of those guys could use (or refine) a third or fourth pitch to make it as starters. Kluber has plenty of recent experience with helping pitchers do that sort of thing.
An article published last spring in a local Tampa paper
said that "Kluber was brought in primarily to pitch but secondarily to serve as a 'been-there, done-that' role model and on-call mentor for the young and less-experienced pitchers on the Rays staff." Rays manager Kevin Cash compared Kluber to Halladay in this regard. "The work ethic, the preparation. It's not, get in everyone's face and talk about everything. It's just kind of sit back and watch and lead by example. And he does that as well as any pitcher I've been around," Cash said.
Kluber throws a hybrid curveball-slider, a big sweeping thing that has its own classification (aka the "Kluberball"). It was a tremendously effective pitch for him during his dominant stretch from 2014-18.
There’s been some talk the last couple years about "The Sweeper," a hybrid curve/slider that's become a trend within the league. We saw the sweeper firsthand with Ottavino, but Kluber really put it on the map, at least in modern times, half a decade ago. Here's a report from last April about "MLB's latest pitching weapon"
With the Yankees in 2021, Kluber taught the pitch to Michael King, who was last year's most dominant reliever before he got hurt, and Chad Green, according to this SB Nation blog
which pulls from an interview with King
I can't find any firm reports about pitchers Kluber may have directly helped in Tampa (maybe @VORP Speed
knows), but there are plenty of Rays pitchers who developed new pitches in 2022. The most notable is Drew Rasmussen, who entered the year an iffy two-pitch starter and rode a new cutter to an extremely effective season. Jason Adam (slider), Colin Poche (curveball), Shawn Armstrong (sinker) and Raley (changeup) are a few others who added or dramatically increased the usage of new offerings. Obviously we can't attribute all of that to Kluber, but the other reports strongly suggest that his influence helped.
Does this factor change anyone’s perception of the merits of Kluber v. Eovaldi? Regardless, it should interesting to see whether and which Red Sox hurlers add to their repertoires this spring.