Milwaukee Brewers closer Corey Knebel could return to the 25-man roster sooner than expected.
When Corey Knebel went down with a left hamstring strain in early April, it looked like he wouldn’t return for a while. The initial report had Knebel out for at least six weeks if not more. That meant an early June return at the earliest. It now looks like Knebel is on track to return to the Milwaukee Brewers by mid-May if not sooner.
What changed with Knebel?
His hamstring feels good enough to throw. Knebel threw off a mound for the first time on April 21st, and he’s also taken part in agility drills. He’s progressing to throwing bullpen sessions, and a short Minor League rehab stint is after that.
The Milwaukee Brewers will still proceed with caution since Knebel was hurt while pitching, but he’s not nearly as far off as he looked when he was hurt.
How was Knebel doing before the injury?
Not great. He only threw 2 2/3 innings over three appearances, but his ERA sits at 10.13. His velocity was down slightly, but it’s still early in the season. Most pitchers don’t achieve peak velocity until July or August.
The good news is that his issues were BABIP driven, not due to poor control. Knebel wasn’t walking guys, but he does own a BABIP of .500. That will come down, and his walks will go up, but he’ll probably return as the pitcher everyone was expecting after his breakout in 2017.
The Milwaukee Brewers have done better than expected with their ‘closer-by-committee’ approach. However, Knebel’s return adds another power arm to their relief corps, and allows everyone else in the bullpen to have a defined role.