Kluber in mix for AL All-Star squad's final spot

Francona hoping fans will support Indians right-hander in Final Vote phase

Kluber in mix for AL All-Star squad's final spot

CLEVELAND -- Everyone inside the Indians' clubhouse feels strongly that pitcher Corey Kluber deserves to be on the American League All-Star team. Manager Terry Francona does not feel it is worth complaining that the right-hander did not make the cut.

Instead, Francona hopes the city of Cleveland and fans within Tribe Nation will band together to help Kluber make the AL All-Star team through MLB.com's Final Vote Sponsored by Experian. Kluber is one of five candidates -- joining Houston's Dallas Keuchel, Detroit's Rick Porcello, Los Angeles' Garrett Richards and Chicago's Chris Sale -- in the mix for the final spot on the AL's elite squad.

"We all think Klubes is an All-Star pitcher this year," Francona said. "But knowing the system and how it works and everything, I think rather than kind of gripe about it is, what we can maybe do as a city, is even though we're not the biggest city, maybe jump on board and support Klubes, and find a way to get him on that team.

"I think that would be a phenomenal feat for us as a city to find a way to get him on that team, because I think his pitching deserves it. Now, it's a chance for the fans to support it. That'd be pretty cool. We're not the largest city, but if we show our support, that'd be really awesome."

To help Kluber's campaign, along with one for Colorado's Justin Morneau in the National League, the Indians and Rockies joined forced via social media immediately following the Final Vote announcement. Using the hashtag of #ClevelandRox, the teams are asking fans of both teams to vote for both Kluber and Morneau to expand the voting body and increase their respective chances.

Kluber gave one last All-Star audition on Sunday, holding the Royals to one run over 8 1/3 innings, in which he racked up 10 strikeouts and issued just one walk. In the process, the righty improved to 8-6 with a 2.86 ERA in 19 starts, which have included 137 strikeouts and 30 walks in 125 2/3 innings.

"We truly believe that he deserves to be in that game," Indians closer Cody Allen said. "I'm sure you can go over there and ask Kansas City right now if they think he deserves to be in that game. They're going to say, 'Yes.'"

Fans began voting to select the final player for each League's 34-man roster via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian immediately following the announcement of each league's 34-man roster on Sunday night. Fans can cast their votes from a list of five players from each League until the winners will be announced after the voting concludes on Thursday at 4 p.m. ET.

In addition to the web, fans can use their mobile phones to cast votes via the mobile web at MLB.com/vote or via text message. To receive the All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian mobile ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 89269. To vote for a specific player, fans can text the choice to 89269. Example: Text "A2" to vote for Kluber. Standard message and data rates may apply. Text "STOP" to end and "HELP" for information. Mobile voting in Canada also is available and fans should text their choices to 101010.

For the third consecutive year, the All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote will include social balloting participation, as Twitter support from the 10 candidates' fans over the last six hours of balloting will count toward their final vote totals. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, any tweet that includes a designated player hashtag (#VoteKluber) will be tabulated as part of the official vote total used to determine the winners. Fans will be able to follow @MLB for the latest standings updates over the course of the entire four-day voting period.

"It's an honor," Kluber said of being in the Final Vote. "It's nice to be recognized, but ultimately individual stuff is not what I'm shooting for. The ultimate goal is for the team to win."

Here are five reasons why Kluber should win the AL Final Vote and a spot on the AL All-Star roster:

1. K is for Kluber. The Indians pitcher has quietly developed into one of the game's top strikeout artists. With his 10-strikeout showing on Sunday, Kluber moved into fourth place on the AL's leaderboard for punchouts. Kluber isn't a household name, but he should be considering the other players on that chart include stars David Price, Felix Hernandez, Max Scherzer and Yu Darvish.

2. He is Cleveland's No. 1. Justin Masterson began this season as the Opening Day starter (for the third straight season), but his struggles have hurt the rotation. In fact, three of the Indians' Opening Day rotation members (Zach McAllister, Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco) are no longer in the starting staff. Kluber has been a reliable arm and leader for the troubled staff.

3. His masterful May: Masahiro Tanaka of the Yankees won the AL's Pitcher of the Month for May, but Kluber could have easily taken home the honor, too. Kluber went 4-0 with a 2.09 ERA in six starts, ending with 60 strikeouts and eight walks. In the past 100 seasons, only 13 pitchers have enjoyed a month with at least 60 strikeouts and no more than eight walks. Kluber is the only Cleveland pitcher to accomplish that feat.

4. Kluber's robotic poise. It has become a running joke inside Cleveland's clubhouse that Kluber rarely smiles. The truth is he is as intense a competitor as they come, and the pitcher has embraced the stoic persona that has had fans calling him "Klubot" on social media this season. The heightened All-Star stage is unlikely to faze the unflappable Kluber.

5. His two unique comebacks. During the offseason before last season, Kluber suffered a right knee injury (requiring surgery) while changing his daughter's diaper. After returning last season, the right-hander sprained his right middle finger in August while throwing a breaking ball. Two fluke injuries have not stopped Kluber from developing into Cleveland top starting pitcher.

The voting doesn't end with the Final Vote. The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com and via Twitter in the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote Sponsored by Pepsi, and their collective voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.

MLB.TV Premium subscribers, for the first time, will be able to live stream the All-Star Game via MLB.TV through FOX's participating video providers. Access will be available across more than 400 support MLB.TV platforms, including the award-winning MLB.com At Bat app. MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.

The 85th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.