Corey Kluber

A two-time Cy Young winner who tossed a no-hitter as recently as 2021, the Boston Red Sox had high hopes for newcomer Corey Kluber, installing him as their Opening Day starter over Chris Sale. Plagued by diminished fastball velocity (88.1 mph) and a career-worst strikeout rate (7.34 K/9), Kluber’s early tenure in Boston has been a cataclysmic failure, losing six of his first nine turns through the Red Sox’s rotation with an ERA north of six (6.26).

Making his weekly appearance on WEEI, manager Alex Cora announced Wednesday the right-hander will transition to a bullpen role going forward, finally admitting defeat on Boston’s failed Kluber experiment. The demotion comes with Garrett Whitlock poised to return Saturday following a monthlong injury absence.

From Opening Day starter to odd man out, it’s been a precipitous fall for Kluber, who took it on the chin in his last outing Sunday at San Diego, letting the Padres, owners of the majors’ lowest batting average (.225), rough him up for five runs over 2 1/3 innings in a losing effort.

Well removed from his Cleveland prime, the three-man All-Star has officially reached the journeyman phase of his career, with Boston representing his fifth team in as many seasons. Corey Kluber could find his way back into the rotation if injuries arise (we know Sale is made of glass), though, barring a miraculous reinvention, the 37-year-old’s days of being a big-league difference-maker are long over.

The Red Sox have featured a potent offense this year (fourth-most runs scored), but have been a disaster on the pitching side of things, with only four starting rotations—Oakland, Cincinnati, Kansas City and Colorado—posting a worse ERA (5.36).