Milwaukee Brewers reliever Corey Knebel is back from his brief sabbatical in Colorado Springs. Should the former closer become the current closer?
Corey Knebel lost his job after a rough July and an awful August. Things got so bad that the Milwaukee Brewers chose to option their former closer to Triple-A for about 10 days. Knebel was added to the active roster after rosters expanded on September 1st. Is there any way he works his way back into the ninth inning this year?
How has Knebel pitched since his demotion?
Well, he only worked one inning with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. He walked one and struck out one.
He’s made three appearances with the Milwaukee Brewers since his return. He’s worked three days in a row and recorded 2 1/3 scoreless innings. He’s faced the minimum number of batters and struck out five.
His last appearance was on September 4th against the Chicago Cubs, and he looked solid. Knebel’s fastball was humming in the 97-98 MPH range, and his breaking stuff showed good bite. He even struck out the side.
If you didn’t know better, you’d think he was a Major League closer.
Should Knebel return to the ninth inning?
There’s still a month left in the season, and it’s entirely possible that Knebel could end up in the mix for saves again. He’ll need to work a few high-leverage spots and continue to rack up strikeouts, but Knebel has the stink of a ‘proven closer’.
Managers will always go with a guy who has ‘done it before’. Don’t think it’s possible for Craig Counsell to do this? There’s a reason Joe Borowski was closing games into his age-37 season, and it’s not because he was awesome.
If Knebel is healthy, putting up zeroes, hitting the upper nineties, and generally looking like a boss, why wouldn’t he close again? He absolutely could, but he has to show that he can get the job done in a few big spots before he’ll get another chance.
Knebel has the closer label, and the Milwaukee Brewers were at their best when he was the ninth inning hammer. A healthy, capable Knebel in the ninth inning allows the Brewers to go with Joakim Soria in the sixth, Jeremy Jeffress in the seventh, and Josh Hader in the eighth. That means that the starter will only have to work five innings before tapping out. That could really help the team’s chances in a playoff series.