The Milwaukee Brewers received some devastating news this afternoon when star reliever Corey Knebel announced he would undergo Tommy John Surgery, foregoing the 2019 season.
Earlier this month it was discovered that Milwaukee Brewers right hander Corey Knebel had been dealing with soreness in his right arm for years due to an injury to his ulnar collateral ligament.
The 27-year-old was one-third of the Brewers stellar closing group along with Josh Hader and Jeremy Jeffress that dominated hitters in the final three innings of the 2018 season. Jeffress is currently resting due to arm soreness as well.
What does this mean for the bullpen?
The Brewers start the 2019 season without two of their most important bullpen pieces in Knebel and Jeffress. The strength of the pitching staff last season was the amazing play of the bullpen and now it seems to be in need of some reinforcements.
Knebel was poised to see more action in the ninth inning this season. Without a closer being named during spring training, Craig Counsell likely would’ve changed it up between Knebel and Jeremy Jeffress in the ninth inning. Now, the role goes to Jeffress once he returns from his own injury issues.
Josh Hader is the lone healthy dominant reliever from last year. On Opening Day, he pitched two innings and got the save. The Brewers still are going to give Hader plenty of rest between outings, making the loss of Knebel that much more damaging.
Who is available?
Well, internally the Brewers could always bring up pitchers from the minor leagues to bolster the bullpen, including Jay Jackson, Josh Fields, and top pitching prospect Zack Brown. The Brewers did go out and pick up Alex Wilson at the end of the spring adding experience to the bullpen.
Externally, the Brewers could still add a top end relief pitcher, although money could be getting tighter. It’s been rumored the Brewers have been talking with All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel, but the asking price could be too high.
When could we see Knebel again?
Although he will have Tommy John Surgery on Wednesday next week, we won’t see Corey until 2020 season and even then he will need to rehab and build strength again. He joins fellow pitcher Brent Suter on the shelf this season due to Tommy John surgery.
With a team posed for a playoff run again, the Milwaukee Brewers will be looking for answers anywhere to add to the bullpen.