ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Corey Kluber knows Michael King has credited him with helping King reinvent himself by refining a pitch the right-hander calls the “Kluberball,” but Kluber brushed aside much of King’s praise.
“He’s probably giving me more credit than I deserve,” said Kluber, who pitched for the Yankees in an injury-plagued 2021 season before signing with the Rays this past offseason.
“He’s the one that had to put in the work and figure stuff out.”
King traced the pitch back to a bullpen session last May, right around the time Kluber threw his no-hitter against the Rangers.
“I threw four terrible sliders in a row, and he said, ‘Why don’t you try it this way and see if it works?’ ” King said recently. “He gave me the grip and a couple pointers about how to throw it. The first one I threw was good. It felt good, and TrackMan [a tool for tracking and analyzing the ball’s movement] showed it was a good pitch. He said, ‘Keep ripping that.’ ”
Kluber said he remembered the session.
“I don’t think it was more than a conversation, but I’m glad we had it and it helped him with his confidence,’’ Kluber said.
Kluber added he believed it was their talk about believing in the pitch that was more important than the adjustment in the pitch itself.
“It’s more of a mindset on it than anything,’’ Kluber said “It’s not necessarily how to throw it, but more the thought process behind it. A lot of times it can be hard to get out of your own way when you’re working on something.”
And he scoffed at the notion that it’s called the “Kluberball.”
“It’s his pitch,’’ Kluber said.
King has been an important part of the Yankees bullpen, but entered Friday in a rut, having allowed eight earned runs in his previous 9 ²/₃ innings.
Kluber has a 4.42 ERA in eight starts for Tampa Bay.