December 21, 2014

Medina
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Indians notes: Corey Kluber takes over as ace

Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Corey Kluber delivers in the first inning Wednesday in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Corey Kluber delivers in the first inning Wednesday in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

CLEVELAND — T.J. House will replace Justin Masterson in the rotation, but right-hander Corey Kluber will take over as the Indians’ ace now that Masterson has been traded.

Truth be told, Kluber had earned the title long before Masterson was dealt to the Cardinals on Wednesday.

He has been one of the American League’s best starting pitchers, entering his outing Wednesday against the Mariners with a 10-6 record and 2.77 ERA over 22 starts.

“I told him today, if he continues to do just what he’s doing, just the way he’s doing it, guys will follow him,” manager Terry Francona said of the unassuming Kluber, who is among the AL leaders in ERA, innings pitched (149⅓) and strikeouts (162).

“That’s very important and we’re excited about that. When you have your best players that do things properly, it’s really hard for other guys not to follow in line.

“Klubes is about as model a citizen, competitor, person, teammate as you can get. I think we’re in good hands there.”

With Masterson gone, the Indians will employ a rotation that includes Kluber, right-handers Zach McAllister, Trevor Bauer and Danny Salazar and House, a lefty. McAllister (3-6, 5.65 ERA) goes tonight, with Salazar (3-4, 4.96), House (1-2, 4.50), Bauer (4-6, 4.25) and Kluber to follow.

New guy

In the Masterson trade, the Indians hope they have acquired an outfielder for the future in James Ramsey — a first-round draft pick (23rd overall) in 2012.

Ramsey, 24, was recently promoted to the Triple-A level, but has spent the entire season at Double-A Springfield, where he batted .300 with 13 home runs and 36 RBIs in 67 games.

Ramsey, who started in the Futures Game during All-Star week, is a center fielder but can play all three outfield positions, according to Cleveland general manager Chris Antonetti.

Roundin’ third

Francona said first base coach Sandy Alomar is expected to return to the team today. Alomar, who has been replaced by assistant hitting coach Matt Quatraro, returned to his home in Chicago on Monday to assist his wife Margred after she underwent hip surgery.

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him @CAwesomeheimer on Twitter.