Milwaukee Brewers closer Corey Knebel blew a save on Friday, and almost blew another save on Sunday. Should the team switch back to the ‘closer by committee’ they used in early in May?
The Milwaukee Brewers have the best record in the National League. They’re four games up on the St. Louis Cardinals. They might have a problem in the ninth inning.
How has Knebel looked since his return?
Corey Knebel worked five straight scoreless appearances, including two saves, since his return from injury. However, he’s run into trouble in each of his last two outings. On Friday, it was a miracle that Knebel only allowed one run. He walked three and gave up a base hit before he was yanked in the ninth inning against the Mets on Friday night.
Milwaukee Brewers managed Craig Counsell turned to Knebel on Sunday as well. This time Knebel had a two run lead to work with. He gave up a solo homer to Mets catcher Devin Mesoraco, and then walked Amed Rosario. Knebel did recover, finished the inning, and earned his fourth save.
The good news is that his velocity has rebounded. Knebel is averaging over 97 MPH on his fastball since his return for the DL. The problem is that he’s struggled with location.
Should the Brewers allow Knebel to fix himself in the ninth inning?
This is the interesting question. The Milwaukee Brewers have a ton of options in the late innings. They don’t have to continue to force Knebel into the ninth inning. The Brewers could roll Josh Hader, Jeremy Jeffress, or Jacob Barnes out for the ninth inning with a minimal drop off.
It’s only two games, and there were bound to be hiccups after Knebel’s return, but the team can’t afford to give away games. If the Brewers are serious about making the playoffs, they’re going to need every W they can get. They can’t afford to blow games in the ninth inning that they should have won. Knebel hasn’t turned an wins into losses since his return yet, but they shouldn’t give him the chance.
Having 2017 Knebel in the ninth inning would take the Milwaukee Brewers bullpen to a historic level. The problem is that they don’t have 2017 Knebel. They have 2018 Knebel, and he’s still finding himself. Allowing Knebel to rediscover his command should occur in lower level situations than the ninth inning, especially with the number of other options available.